Niall Guite: Smashing the 2.6 Challenge!
Take yourself back to the start of lockdown. The cancellation of major sporting events across the globe. Fears for the future of charities and sporting organisations large and small. A frightening, unknown future.
How did you respond?
For 27 year-old cyclist and Sheffield Wednesday fan Niall, this moment was a turning point.
Niall knew that Special Olympics GB must survive, must carry on doing its vital work providing sporting opportunities to people, like Niall, with autism and learning disabilities. Inspired by the ‘2.6 Challenge’ set up in the wake of the cancellation of the London Marathon, Niall was determined to help.
But what could he do? How could Niall, a man with limited ability to communicate using words or to live life independently, make a difference? Niall can’t manage money. Can’t read or understand letters very well, can’t complete tasks due to sequencing and concentration issues. So many can’ts. What about the cans? What can Niall offer the world?
An exceptionally talented artist, Niall dreamed up the idea of creating and selling unique stadium art – an extraordinary project that has so far netted the Special Olympics over £6000 and gained Niall a following of over 1200 people on Twitter.
“Niall is an amazing ambassador for Special Olympics GB we couldn’t be prouder.” Special Olympics GB
Niall has been featured by ESPN and the BBC, and on his local news and radio. His following now includes renowned artist Grayson Perry – who told him he loved his work – together with Premier League footballers and many others.
Finding his voice
Niall has learned the power of staying positive, being persistent, and focusing on the things he can do.
Twitter has given him a voice and allowed him to teach many others about his world. His art has helped Niall be happy, find his community and express himself in fun and infectious ways.
With the help of Special Olympics GB, and of course now with a well-deserved spot on the Dimensions’ Learning Disability and Autism Leaders List, Niall is about to launch his own social enterprise and website, niallguite.com. Through this, he will sell his work to raise more funds for the Special Olympics and to actively pursue his growing career in art.
Niall has also joined a track cycling club, training hard in the hope of reaching the Special Olympics World Games in Berlin 2023.
And despite the current woes of his beloved Sheffield Wednesday, Niall gets up with a smile on his face every day, wondering what else might happen and who else he can engage with. Niall’s view of humans is that they will generally try to be kind and supportive. And what could be brighter than that?
Follow Niall on social media
How does it feel to win?