Six year old Rio Woolf was born with Tibial Aplasia, a bone deficiency that resulted in his right leg being amputated through the knee.
This would hold many young children back, but instead Rio has found opportunity in his physical disadvantage.
A year after The Jewish News last featured (click here) this inspirational young man who attends Bushey United Synagogue, he has made string of unbelievable achievements and landmarks at such a young age.
Without a shadow of a doubt, his most memorable accomplishment was meeting Prince Harry, although it is certainly not limited to this.
The incredible series of events for such a young man include running, interviews and photo shoots with high profile celebrities and sports stars.
Not only is this six year old an aspiring Paralympian himself, but he is also inspired by many people who too have triumphed over adversity.
Rio has had the opportunity to participate in numerous events involving Paralympic sport:
In the past year, Rio took part in many events, including The London Newham Lottery Anniversary Run in July 2013 and 2014, which you can watch here:
Rio’s exciting day at the Anniversary Games in July 2013 was documented with a Channel 4 interview with Clare Balding and Ade Adepitan:
He then had photo shoot with Alan Oliveira and Jonnie Peacock, before his VIP trip to Brazil last November as a guest of Rio 2016 and The Brazillian Paralympic Committee.
He then received a special invitation in December to No.10 to meet Samantha Cameron at the DEMAND – Design and Manufacture for Disability reception.
This led to friends and family joking that he’d be meeting royalty next. It was not so premature.
Rio’s mother Juliette said “This is undoubtedly a lifetime highlight for our family – Rio can’t wait to take the photos into school for ‘Show and Tell!”
We had the most amazing day at the Invictus Games Wheelchair Basketball event – it was a dream come true for Rio to meet Prince Harry.
He has wanted to meet him ever since he saw the Prince on TV for the launch of the Invictus Games.
Prince Harry was so generous with his time, despite a very busy schedule, and took a great interest in Rio’s latest prosthetic leg.
This leg was a water activity limb from Dorset Orthopaedic – so Rio’s new leg has now received the royal seal of approval!
Rio also seized this golden opportunity to give Prince Harry one of his business cards with his social media/fundraising links.
These were set up as part of our “Run Rio Run” fundraising campaign to provide Rio’s future lightweight prosthetic legs which are not available on the NHS in our part of the UK.
He had said before the games that he had two wishes:
Firstly for Prince Harry to follow him, and secondly to reach 1,000 followers on twitter – and he has hit his target and is thrilled that he now has a new royal follower – @ClarenceHouse.
It was such a huge honour to meet Prince Harry and to shake his hand and to congratulate him on the phenomenal success of the Invictus Games.
Juliette said “We are so thankful to him for launching this most incredibly uplifting event which has united not just the public and services community in the UK, but around the world, in the most joyous celebration of the healing power of sport!”
“The Invictus Games have also inspired the next generation – just like the London 2012 Paralympics did – continuing the momentum of the London 2012 Legacy!”
She continues “But it was even more moving than the Paralympics, knowing what terror and suffering these brave men and women have endured and to see them embracing the rehabilitation benefits of sport after such life-changing injuries is just wonderful! Although we as a family don’t have any connection to the military, we have a natural empathy to these wounded warriors and have been so incredibly moved by their courage – they are such great role models for Rio and all “differently-abled” children – especially the young amputee community.
Rio has become involved with the charity The Pilgrim Bandits and he proudly wore his Pilgrim Bandits T-shirt when he met Prince Harry!
Rio also met up with our local hero – Derek Derenalagi – London 2012 Paralympian and now a double gold medallist and silver medallist at the Invictus Games – who recently gave a great motivational talk at Rio’s school – Hartsbourne Primary School in Bushey Heath.
Meeting Prince Harry has been the grand finale of a very exciting Summer of para-sport events for Rio, starting with a track session with his hero Jonnie Peacock at the Manchester Great City Games in May, followed by a child amputee football match at West Ham for the charity Elizabeth’s Legacy of Hope.
He also enjoyed competing in his school sports day, had a session at the Weir Archer Taster Day (David Weir’s wheelchair racing academy in Kingston) in July, and went to Swansea for the IPC European Athletics Championships where he was lucky to spend time with his hero Jonnie Peacock, as well as meeting Hannah Cockcroft and seeing Richard Whitehead again.
Rio then attended the LimbPower Manic Marafun event at Stoke Mandeville before the National Paralympic Day at the Olympic Park in August, and competed in his first Junior Para-Triathlon hosted by Arctic One in Chesham earlier this month.
Then his lifetime achievement – meeting Prince Harry at the Invictus Games where he was so inspired by all the courageous wounded warriors.
Rio is enjoying so many fantastic experiences and is living such an interesting and inspiring life – this month he will take part in the the WheelPower Primary Sports Camp at Stoke Mandeville.
Most recently, Rio has been featured in IPC’s (International Paralympic Committee) 25th Anniversary video:
— Paralympic Games (@Paralympic) October 5, 2014
Rio’s parents are fundraising to provide his future lightweight prosthetic legs – he is excited to take delivery of his new lightweight knee-jointed leg at a minimum cost of £5000.