A tradesman reminded me how tedious it is being stuck indoors. It reinforced Emily’s independence after SCI as she left the house to catch a wheelchair accessible bus (M30) to Sydney University leaving me behind.
I signed the form that Emily assertively presented to me and realized I was; chief supporter, responsible carer, sandwich maker and jelly bean monitor for her City2Surf team on Sunday, August 9th, 2015.
From Hyde Park the course is 14 km through to the finish line at Bondi. I have not been involved in previous races but you can’t live in Sydney without knowing about the City2Surf Heartbreak Hill. Discard any visions of weeping lovers as they are dumped along the wayside or broken-hearted couples clutching their heaving chests as they wave tearful, red-eyed farewells. No, Heartbreak Hill threatens the thigh and calf muscles of all the participants as it has a false summit. What appears to be the hill-top is actually only a corner on a continuing rise. The undulations that follow through residential streets keeps everyone literally on their toes!
As the ink dried on my signature I rushed to Google the race site. I had to deep breathe through my alarm as I read…… Elite Wheelchair Athletes: This Start Group is for elite wheelchair athletes only. Athletes must be in a racing chair to compete in this Start Group and who will aim to complete the course sub 38mins.
38mins! SUB 38mins!
Let’s go back to the beginning – Emily wants to raise awareness and funds for ParaQuad. An organisation that supports people with spinal cord injury in the community. As a ParaQuad member Emily could apply and was granted a scholarship which she put towards her University fees. Returning to University was an important milestone within Emily’s recovery goals.
ParaQuad supports life choices after spinal injuries. It also supports carers because if it aids Emily, it aids me as her full-time carer. With increased resources and support Emily is empowered with more independence heading towards a positive future with opportunities.
On our first training session we averaged 5 km an hour so we should finish the City2Surf course in 3 hours. Add in a sandwich and jelly bean pit stop and maybe a finish time of 3.5 hours would be more realistic. Does that help put the elite wheelchair athletes into perspective!
Emily and her mate Cobie are determined to push their way through and enjoy the success that comes with a challenge. If you would like to support them and their carers by donating to ParaQuad please see their everyday heroes site here
Thank you from Emily, me and our track coach – The Big Black Beastie!
Spinal cord injury (SCI) isn’t a game but in an analogy it would be the snakes and ladders board game played in my childhood. Considering SCI there can be more snakes to slip and slide down than helpful ladders when manoeuvring towards a goal. The best ladder for us has been establishing some mentors. Our mentors are experienced carers and wheelchair users, they shed light on some complexities and the shortcuts that help life roll a little more smoothly. Mentoring is another word for friendship with a practical aspect to conversations, someone to bounce an idea off, someone to ask, someone to confide in or share in a joke.