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A Mother’s Journey After Her Son’s Spinal Cord Injury

Dear Friends,

My name is Julie Williams and I’m the mother of Walkabout’s advocate, Kirk Williams.

Kirk was injured in a mountain biking accident in 2009, breaking his C4-6 vertebrae and injuring his spinal cord. Receiving that phone call and the weeks that followed brought me to my knees. Our family had lived an active lifestyle of swimming, hiking, biking, and adventuring pre-accident. We all had an easy, uncomplicated fun-loving relationship with Kirk. I wasn’t sure if that would ever happen again.

I will be honest, my maternal instincts and gravitational pull to Kirk became my Achilles heel following his injury. It strained me to the breaking point. He needed his space to heal while I felt I needed to be right by his side through everything. After a “come to Jesus” talk with Kirk, I realized the best thing I could do for him was to leave him in Colorado and return home to Virginia. After all, I had to accept I could not make this better. It was out of my control. I was making it worse for both of us. A harsh reality for a mom to face. But face it, I did.

Though there is no cure for someone who has suffered a Spinal Cord Injury yet, rehabilitation centers teach amazing ways for patients to adapt.  I am blessed to have a son who took in all the suggestions and was able to build upon them… and then some.

Shortly after leaving the hospital, Kirk began going out for adventures with various adaptive sports organizations. His change in character was evident. Our conversations began shifting to what he was doing, not how he was doing. This was a remarkable improvement for the relationship between us as well.

As time went by, Kirk kept doing more and more. Before long he was doing even more than he did when he was able-bodied!  I didn’t see that coming! We started to become creative about family vacations, in a good way. Rather than exchanging Christmas presents, we planned family trips to Cozumel, Belize and Maui, so the guys could SCUBA dive together, while all I needed was a good book, the beaches and quality time with my boys.

Recently, I’ve been finishing a children’s picture book called Bella Joins the Service; a story about Kirk and his amazing service dog, Bella. Bella tells about her dilemma and angst as Kirks’ best friend after he was first injured. She asks the questions, ‘What can I do? What if I jumped on top of him and licked him? Would that make him better?’ We follow her journey as she and her “Kirk” come full circle to live the same life they enjoyed before — just differently. This story, of course, parallels my journey as Kirk’s mom since the accident. Bella and I are the same in our love for our Kirk.

We are both so proud of Kirk, what he has achieved and what he will continue to achieve. As it turns out, we have come full circle and do enjoy the same life we had before… Just differently.

With love and hope,

Julie

This Mother’s Day in the UK, make all the moms in your life feel extra special. Give a woman in need the gift of mobility in honour of your mom today!

Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Month

Walkabout Foundation was founded by siblings Luis and Carolina Gonzalez-Bunster after Luis was left Spinal Cord Injured at the age of 18.

Eleven years ago, Carolina and Luis completed the famous Camino de Santiago walk to raise funds and awareness of Walkabout. That day, Luis became the first person in the history of Spain to cross the country using the strength of his arms, on his hand tricycle.

In celebration of this special month, we are launching Walkabout’s Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) Awareness Month. The campaign’s mission is two-fold – raise awareness of spinal cord injury, as well as raise funds for the SCI research that we are funding – Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, a clinical trial that tests 30 patients with spinal cord injuries, developing therapies to help their recovery of function. Watch the video to find out more, and if you feel inspired, please donate today.

The 2.6 Challenge

We’re joining thousands of UK charities to boost charity funds through tough fundraising times

 

With so many events and fundraising opportunities now cancelled due to the COVID19 pandemic, the UK’s different event organisers have come together and created a challenge for millions of us around the country to get behind and generate vital support for us and thousands of other UK charities.

The concept is simple. From the 26th of April for 5 days you are all challenged to do something active and creative, and ask your friends to donate £26 to a fundraising page you’ll create. There are no rules besides the government restrictions, but you should make your challenge related to the number 26 or 2.6. Perhaps you could walk around your house 26 times in a hand-made superhero costume or bake 26 muffins?!

If 2.6 million people raise £26 each, then that will generate the same £67m that would have been raised at the London Marathon, a vital source of funds that many charities relied upon which had to be postponed.

Many of us have been inspired by the story of a 99-year-old veteran who has raised millions by walking around his garden. Could you follow in his footsteps?

Of course, if you’d prefer to simply donate £26 then that’s just as welcome. But this is a great opportunity to motivate ourselves and our families to think up one thing a bit creative and get active for a good cause.

 

Become a Walkabout Hero in the 2.6 Challenge

Many charities will be promoting this campaign so how do you know where to send your money?

1. Dream up your 2.6 challenge

2. Donate to our cause or start your very own fundraising campaign Donate to our cause or start your very own fundraising campaign using one of the two channels below!

Please ensure you use one of these two fundraising channels to set up your own fundraising page. Search for “Walkabout Foundation UK” and get started! Both channels are waiving their fees so 100% of all donations come to us.

3. Ask all your friends and family to donate to your fundraising page by sending them the link and challenge them to do their own 2.6 Challenge

4. Complete your challenge

5. Share photos or videos of your challenge on social media with #TwoPointSixChallenge #WalkaboutHero and tag @WalkaboutOrg on Instagram and Twitter, and @WalkaboutFoundation on Facebook.

Thank you so much for supporting us during these difficult times! If you have any questions or need help with the fundraising idea, please get in touch with us on info@walkaboutfoundation.org or visit The 2.6 Challenge website.