From Canberra to Humpty Doo – The Spine Tingling Charity Ride!

The SPINETINGLING RIDE – ANDREW KEREC’s SOLO 5,450KM JOURNEY ON A MOUNTAIN BIKE TO RAISE FUNDS FOR:

  • Spinal cord repair research/clinical trials (Project Edge)
  • People with physical and complex disabilities (Hartley Lifecare)

And to raise awareness for;

  • Livable Housing Design (Livable Housing Australia)

The ride connects two places near and dear to the hearts of the Kerec family.  Starting at Andrew’s parent’s home in Forde, Canberra on Wednesday 15th March 2017 and ending at a cherished family friend’s home in Humpty Doo, Darwin in May 2017.

ANDREW KEREC – MY STORY

In early 2010 my great mate, business partner and dad, Lud Kerec, went for a light ride on a Sunday afternoon as part of his final ‘wind down’ preparation for the Port Macquarie Ironman event he was going to undertake with my little brother Malcolm on the following weekend.

He was hit by another cyclist who was on the wrong side of the cycle path around a corner and they both came off their bikes.  There were no apparent physical injuries to either of them apart from a few scratches.  The other cyclist got up.  Dad didn’t.  His helmet strap had ‘garroted’ his neck and caused a dislocation of his spine around the C5/C6 vertebrae level.  His spinal cord was intact but badly bruised and dad had instantly lost pretty much all function below his chest including his hands and chest muscles.  While we obviously hoped for some recovery of function in the ensuing months – none came and Dad had become, and remains, a C5/C6 quadriplegic.

Life certainly changed in a heartbeat.

History has shown that our family and friends rallied.  My inspirational mum reinforced to all and sundry what an outstanding person and role model she is.  My unbelievably strong dad regained his health and recovered mentally – and after spending several months at the Prince of Wales Hospital in Sydney – we all came home.

Living with quadriplegia has become my dad’s new ‘normal’.  Living with a quadriplegic has become my family’s new ‘normal’.  We’ve gone boat fishing in Kakadu – beached ourselves on Pococks beach and shared a beer…or two.  We’ve crossed the Canning Stock Route in a 4WD!  Dad is now riding a hand cycle / quadriplegic specific bike and we are planning a boat fishing trip to the Kimberley.

We are all good – we are still mad Kerec blokes and we don’t need any help – that’s not what this ride is about.

It took a while, but even after experiencing such a terrible life changing accident to a loved one, you eventually begin to appreciate that perhaps everything does happen for a reason – and by doing so, you can start looking for ways to create positive outcomes, directions and results.

The reason for this ride

After an accident causing severe spinal cord injury – it is critical that initial treatment/surgery is performed as soon as possible to maximise the chances of any recovery of function.  It is generally only available in the major cities (of which Canberra is not) and well over 24 hours was lost in transferring dad to Sydney after his accident.

In the several months that we were in the Spinal Unit at the Prince of Wales hospital it became very obvious that the biggest barrier to many patients going home was not appropriate recovery, but availability of appropriate care and accommodation.  Some spinal cord injury patients we came to know languished in hospital for up to a year waiting for renovations or housing availability.

The only reason we got Dad back home when he was healthy enough was because my wife and I were able to make modifications to our new home (that was under construction) – and Mum and I provided all of Dad’s health and hygiene care for 12 months.  If we didn’t, he would have remained in hospital for another year.

My dad has conquered the physical and mental impact of his injury, but social exclusion is an ongoing anxiety.  In the majority of cases, he can no longer visit family and friends as he simply cannot access their homes.

So as you can imagine, my family feels very strongly about making changes such as:

  • Improving the availability, range and quality of initial and ongoing treatments and rehabilitation for anyone that suffers a spinal cord injury
  • Increasing the availability and affordability of appropriate care and accommodation options for anyone that suffers a spinal cord injury
  • Increasing the quantity and quality of accessible or easily adaptable homes in general

I hope to go a long way to achieving the above by supporting and raising funds and awareness for an exciting research/clinical trial (Project Edge), a supportive local, not-for-profit organisation (Hartley Lifecare), as well as simple accessible housing design guidelines (Livable Housing Australia).

ANDREW KEREC

 

Starting on Wednesday 15th March and taking approximately 9 weeks to get to Humpty Doo, Andrew will ride over 5,400 km on tracks, fire trails, forest roads and desert trails on his mountain bike to raise funds for two charities that are close to his heart.

Please support Andrew’s incredible efforts by visiting his website / liking the facebook page, considering the Kerec story and making a fully tax deductible pledge:

http://www.thespinetinglingride.com.au

HARTLEY LIFECARE

Hartley Lifecare is a unique and specialised disability service that has provided high quality residential, recreational, respite, transport and community services for children and adults with physical and complex disabilities for over 50 years.  Hartley Lifecare is focused on making a difference for people living with disability, their families and carers within the ACT and surrounding region.

We believe that while disability changes lives forever, it does not have to stop a person from participating in their community or diminish their quality of life.  With special, intensive ongoing support, people with physical and complex disabilities can lead fulfilling lives.

While many disabilities develop before birth, the reality is that a disability or brain injury can happen unexpectedly to anybody at any stage of their life.  Hartley Lifecare exists to support people with a wide range of complex disabilities through our programs and services delivered by our exceptionally skilled and caring staff.

Hartley Lifecare relies on NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme) funding, corporate partners and individual donors as well as special events to raise the funds needed to enable us to expand and enhance the services we provide to people living with disability in our local community.

OUR SERVICES INCLUDE:

  • Centre-based child and adult-specific 24 hour respite care program
  • Long term residential support
  • Independent living skills program
  • Recreational respite program
  • Specialised transport service
  • Assistive Technology Program (Ipads, Eye Gaze and Communication devices)

Hartley will be utilising funds from this inspiring event towards the renovation and rebuild of existing facilities that we own for people with disabilities with high and complex needs.

Many of our facilities are getting old and tired and these funds will greatly assist us to upgrade these houses and provide the people we support with a best practice facility and a beautiful home to live in.

SPINALCURE AUSTRALIA

An estimated 15,000 people in Australia live with a spinal cord injury, with one person on average added to this number each day.

The impact of a spinal cord injury (SCI) on someone’s life, and on their family and friends, is cataclysmic.  SCI is of course much more than not being able to walk—it means a person is robbed of their independence and dignity as normal functions, such as bladder, bowel and sexual function, are no longer under the individual’s control.

‘Project Edge’ is a newly formed partnership between the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) and SpinalCure Australia, with support from Spinal Cord Injuries Australia.  Project Edge will see the introduction of a five-year clinical research program in neuromodulation for spinal cord injury at UTS.

Neuromodulation is a ground-breaking research area, pioneered by Professor V. Reggie Edgerton at UCLA, that has shown unprecedented levels of recovery for people with SCI—helping to restore their independence and improve their quality of life in a way no other treatment has thus-far allowed.

Prof Edgerton’s work has so far seen more than fifty (eleven published to date) paraplegic and quadriplegic participants experience life changing sensory and motor function returns.

Some of the most recently published results show it is possible to return some hand-function to people with quadriplegia.  This world-first is an incredibly meaningful result for this patient group, with hand function being their number one desire in terms of recovering function, rated well above standing and walking.

The history of paralysis research is fraught with unfulfilled expectations.  However, medical research has now brought us to a time when a cure is considered inevitable, and neuromodulation is expected to be a key component of this. As such, there is an urgent and compelling need to fund this vital research.

INTERVIEW OPPORTUNTIES IN LEAD UP TO EVENT Andrew Kerec and Lud Kerec – The Spinetingling Ride

Eric Thauvette – CEO, Hartley Lifecare

Kate Retallack – Executive Officer, Marketing and Partnerships, SpinalCure Australia

MEDIA CONTACTS Kellie Edwards, Senior Manager, Fundraising and Marketing

Hartley Lifecare

M: 0409 852 113   or   E: kellieedwards@hartley.org.au

 

Kate Retallack, Executive Officer – Marketing and Partnerships

SpinalCure Australia

M: 0478 045 406     or E: kate@spinalcure.org.au