Lazy lunch for an active cause

It started as an idea between two friends.

Cindy Douglas and Anne Sinnott created Team Carolyn to support Carolyn Beaver, a veterinarian who received a spinal cord injury after a horse-riding accident in England in 2006.

On her return to New Zealand, Dr Beaver was not eligible for ACC compensation as she had received her injury in the UK and had been working over there for more than six years.

Wanting to help the determined young woman who has now focused her attention on spinal-cord injury rehabilitation and research, Mrs Douglas and Ms Sinnott, aided by family and friends, organised the recent Team Carolyn Long Lazy Lunch.

The event, which was held at the Douglas family's Dome Hills Station homestead in North Otago, raised $20,000.

That money would contribute towards a vehicle which, once further modified, would give Dr Beaver the ability to drive independently.

Dr Beaver described the event as "a once-in-a-lifetime experience" and she and her husband Doug appreciated the "massive effort" that went into organising it.

"To have the support and encouragement of so many people, many of whom I'd never met before, is so heartwarming and very humbling.

"Their enthusiasm and belief in me gives me more determination to succeed so I can give back to society and also help others in their journey with spinal-cord injuries."

She particularly thanked Mrs Douglas and Ms Sinnott for the "incredible amount of time, brain-power and compassion" they put into making an inspiring idea a reality.

"Since my spinal-cord injury, it has taken a lot for me to step back, acknowledge my situation and accept that financially I simply 'can't do it on my own'," she said.

It would be "brilliant" to drive herself where and when she wanted to go. She would be able to start doing her research and study in office space within the University of Otago campus in Wellington.

Since the Long Lazy Lunch, Dr Beaver had submitted her second-last assignment for her postgraduate diploma in rehabilitation and was now working on her research proposal.

That assignment formed the basis of the proposal for her Masters thesis for next year.

The topic was the participants' experience of the use of a complex intervention to treat obstructive sleep apnoea which was common problem with tetraplegia.

That would allow a better understanding of the effect of sleep issues and the benefit, versus burden, of the treatment, she said.

A fitness goal was to take part in a triathlon, a sport for which Dr Beaver loved to train before her accident.

She hoped to find an event where she could do the swim leg in a double kayak with her husband and then do the bike/run legs on a hand-cycle.

The first step was to get a hand-cycle, the second step was to get training. Another possibility was to hand-cycle the New York Marathon as part of the CatWalk team.

For Mrs Douglas, the highlight of the Long Lazy Lunch was hearing Dr Beaver and Catriona Williams talk about their lives, futures and goals.

She described the experience as "humbling, yet inspirational".

Mrs Williams, a champion eventer and showjumper, was left a tetraplegic after a horse-riding accident in 2002.

She founded the CatWalk Spinal Cord Injury Trust which has raised more than $2 million for spinal cord injury research.

The ability to rise above such adversity to be such inspirational and positive contributors who "gave so much back to others" was demonstrated not only by those two women but other special guests Sir Tim Wallis, and Andrew and Sonya Pickles, Mrs Douglas said.