One in 17,000 people in the UK has albinism. Unfortunately, Kelly Gallagher belongs to the minority group suffering from this evil disease. But not because of tired feet and fading eyes over the years that Northern Ireland skiers gave up. She is even part of the history of this country’s sport.
Gallagher, 35, is a congenital albino patient from birth. Gallagher’s hair and skin are white, and his eyesight is only 1/10 and tends to decrease over the years.
Basically, Gallagher can’t literally open his eyes. When going to school, she was assigned a seat next to … the teacher to look at the board. Gallagher’s brain also could not develop normally, because the only way she could clearly see was that the opposite object had to be cubed and covered with paint in opposite colors. Otherwise, Gallagher will see everything in white and black.
In Gallagher’s era, information about albinism was very limited. On the university campus, Gallagher has repeatedly expressed an attitude because teachers and administrators are unable to provide an appropriate method to help a “special” student like her.
To enhance eyesight, Gallagher must strictly follow the instructions of the doctor, using different types of eyeglasses, constantly applying cream and wearing sunscreen to control the growth of albino cells. in person. Sometimes, his evil classmates also mock Gallagher as a “vampire”, referring to those who will not be able to live normally under the sun.
But Gallagher and his family have been preparing for this harsh reality for a long time. Together, they help the girl with basic knowledge and always remind Gallagher to say, “I’m normal like everyone else”.
As a child, Gallagher exercised by cycling and rollerblading. Gallagher’s hobby of playing toys was also formed through the barbie dolls her father bought. Oddly, Gallagher dolls are often made of hard plastic, not flexible like other common types.
At 17, Gallagher went on holiday with his family in Andorra. It was her first time seeing snow-capped peaks. Then Gallagher recalled images of dolls that could neither move nor bend their limbs. And Gallagher suddenly thought, I belong to the peaks, can freely fly, flailing.
At that moment, Gallagher knew he wanted to be a skier. At the top of the mountain peaks are gray clouds and the bottom is a deep abyss, ordinary people just wish for a helicopter to rescue. And Gallagher, the only thing that inspires the instinct inside is to rush down to the top of the summit at a speed of 120 km / h.
For many consecutive years, Gallagher consistently followed Charlotte Evans, a famous guide in the Paralympic Games. In 2010, Gallagher was the first disabled athlete of Northern Ireland sports to win a medal at a sports event (Vancouver Games). 4 years later, she became the first disabled athlete of the entire British Commonwealth territory to win gold at a Winter Paralympic Games (Sochi 2014).
“Sometimes when I’m sitting in the airport lobby, I get a bit of complacent thoughts. It’s like I’m the best skier in the world, with a faster pace than a car on the highway. Of course, I don’t mean anything, but for someone not as good as me, it is a doping dose to live and live well, ”Gallagher told SI.
That year, Gallagher was awarded the British Imperial Medal (MBE), on a very special occasion. As usual, MBE is only awarded twice a year, on New Year, and the Queen’s birthday. But at the time, Gallagher was accompanied as head of state, meeting the Queen of England alone and becoming an everlasting part of British sports history.
“I also want to be like Serena Williams, like other top female athletes in the world, to be able to speak freely and assert myself. But to me, it exceeded both dreams and expectations, ”Gallagher said.