It’s every parents natural urge to protect their child from harm and to run interference when it looks like they might get hurt. For the parents of Alex Dowsett, dealing with the diagnosis at the age of 18-months that he was haemophiliac (a “bleeder”) became of project of the family to ensure that an active kid like Alex could live a normal life:
“Our advice to parents of young haemophiliacs is to encourage physical activity as much as you can as it helps build strength and promotes healing. Although it’s difficult, you must let your child enjoy their young life and taking part in positive activities, building their self-confidence and self-esteem, which is crucial for their health and well-being.”
Alex loved sports, and fortunately for him, his parents found a way to let him still be a kid AND learn to deal with being a bleeder. Asked what it’s like being a top professional athlete, living daily with haemophilia, Alex said: “I don’t feel any different to any other athlete, or at least I don’t think I do! Although I race every time knowing that I’m making a positive impact on the haemophilia and rare disease community.” Alex took his status as a well-known top cyclist and former holder of the world hour record and founded “Little Bleeders”, a non-profit organization that focuses on promoting the message that despite having a blood disorder, young people can still live active lives and participate in sport, particularly swimming and cycling.
Dowsett: “We have the motto “Move more, Be more”. For countries like the UK, haemophiliacs have access to life changing medication which effectively enables us to live as close to a normal life as possible. At Little Bleeders we use my story as well as our ambassador’s stories to promote health, active lifestyles and leading normal and fulfilling lives. In less economically developed countries, though, the situation isn’t so great with limited access to medication. This can be super debilitating for sufferers of the condition and has a huge impact on their lives. Our long-term goal is to help make medication accessible worldwide so haemophiliacs can have equal opportunities across the globe.”
Non-profits often join up with major companies in an effort to promote a cause with a good-size budget behind the collaboration. In Dowsett’s case, Little Bleeders was joined by Oakley to educate the world about living with haemophilia.
Dowsett: “Following on from our long-term goals, Oakley is a huge global brand and haemophilia really is a relatively unknown condition so the support in raising awareness is huge for us at Little Bleeders and for haemophiliacs around the world. I am enormously grateful; Oakley first supported haemophilia in 2011 and to continue supporting it here in 2019 is incredible.”
Dowsett has used his fame from cycling to bring attention to haemophilia and offer advice and resources to young kids adjusting to the life of a bleeder. He invites everyone to visit their website and consider donating to this worthy, life-changing cause:
“Our website is www.littlebleeders.com where you can find out more about what we’re doing and more about the condition. Please help us by spreading awareness and donating!”
Photos c. Alex Dowsett