Alexandria mum faces her bungee jump fears in honour of brave son

-Credit: (Image: Lennox Herald)
-Credit: (Image: Lennox Herald)


An Alexandria mum said facing her fear of heights is nothing compared to the bravery her son has shown battling one of the world’s rarest diseases.

Lisa French plunged from 40m in support of the ROHHAD Association - the charity she set up to fund research into a cure for the condition that her son Aaron, 14, is bravely fighting.

She was part of a 10-strong team who took on the challenge - including Aaron’s papa, Thomas Meechan, 73, dad Ian, grandad Chris Whitbread, 45, school pals Murrin King and Dale Ashman, both 14, and fearless aunt Karen Meechan, who enjoyed the experience so much that she jumped twice.

Lisa founded the charity after son Aaron was diagnosed with ROHHAD – a one in 44 million life-threatening condition that severely impacts quality of life

The organisation is leading the way in trying to find a cure after funding a team of top scientists, researchers and physicians from across the world who are currently undergoing vital research.

More than £400,000 has been raised thanks to brave Aaron who has fronted fundraising campaigns which have raised thousands of pounds and melted hearts across the globe.

-Credit:Lennox Herald
-Credit:Lennox Herald

In 2019, he won the Good Morning Britain Young Fundraiser of the Year accolade and even enlisted the help of Hollywood star Robert Downey Jr, who has became a close friend.

Aaron’s latest fundraising idea was to challenge his mum to face her fears, as Lisa explained.

She continued: “I would never have willingly chosen to do something like that. Aaron knows I’m scared of heights, I can’t even climb the ladder into my loft.

“If Aaron could’ve done the bungee jump then he would’ve. He’s not scared of anything. Because of everything he’s been through in his life he just isn’t scared of things. He doesn’t have a lot of fear. He’s a very strong, tough little man.

“He wanted to do the bungee jump and do it for the other ROHHAD kids. But unfortunately he isn’t able to because he’s so medically complex.

“Before he even said it, I knew what was coming. He said ‘mum, you’re organising it. Why can’t you do it?’

“I thought, oh no! He asked me in front of his nurse and his papa. Who immediately said that they’d do it.

-Credit:Lennox Herald
-Credit:Lennox Herald

“He asked the question in front of us all. So I knew I had to do it. In the build-up all I could think was ‘what have I done? I can’t go back on this now’.

“What motivated me to go through with it was knowing that he wanted to do it. But can’t. I’m still fit and healthy enough to do it, even though I was terrified.

“He’s always faced his fears. When he was two and three he was terrified of needles and of the tests doctors were doing. I held his hand through that and said that he had to do it.

“He’s overcome all of that. He sits like a champ because getting blood from him is really, really difficult with his condition. He doesn’t bat an eyelid now.

“He faces it all with such strength and resilience.”

Fearless Aaron was on hand to watch on the day, even ribbing mum Lisa for her nerves prior to the jump.

Lisa continued: “It was a wonderful day. Aaron’s bones are breaking spontaneously at the moment because of his ROHHAD. Both of his ankles are broken so I had to help him get down the stairs and into his wheelchair to sit and watch.

“He watched the video and had a laugh at me. But he also said ‘what are you scared of heights for?’

“He told me that he wanted me to enjoy it. So I think that he was a bit disappointed that I didn’t enjoy it in the way he would’ve done. But he was still really happy to see us all there doing it.

“After he took the mickey a bit he did say that I was brave to do it.

Aaron receiving his Pride of Britain award in 2019 -Credit:Daily Mirror/Andy Stenning
Aaron receiving his Pride of Britain award in 2019 -Credit:Daily Mirror/Andy Stenning

“Everyone has asked me if I’ll do it again. And my answer is always the same. The fact I’ve managed to do it once is a miracle. I don’t have to do it again. I’ve done it once for my son, I don’t need to ever do it again.

“I can’t wrap my head around why anyone would enjoy it. But good luck to them!”

And Lisa says that the bravery shown by Aaron, and other youngsters with ROHHAD, makes her more determined than ever to raise funds.

She added: “We’ve done such amazing things over the years. Research is well underway. But we’re nearly £250,000 off target this year.

“We need to find ways to get a substantial amount of money in. We can’t go further without continued help and support.

“Aaron deals with everything like a trooper. He gets on with it and he never complains about anything.

“He’s always wanting to do things, he’s always living his life and not letting it hold him back. There’s strength and beauty in the suffering that you have to admire. I don’t want to ever say goodbye to him.”

Anybody wanting to chip in to support the ROHHAD Association can find out more on the charity’s Facebook page or www.rohhadassociation.com.