Doing what it takes
By KUE DAVIS
JUST six months ago, Annette Vidler was told she never walk unaided again.
What's more, the 49-year-old bundle of energy had never learned to swim.
Now, to the disbelief of doctors and friends, and with some help from massage therapist Leeann Lloyd, Annette is not just walking, but is also about to make her debut swim in the 250 metre Jetty Swim on February 24.
"In June of last year I had an operation to remove a tumour from my stomach and leg," Annette explained.
"In the operation, they had to remove seven centimetres of the femoral nerve in my leg, which meant that I had no feeling and no use at all in my left leg. It was a dead weight.
"The doctors told me that I would never walk again and if by some chance that I did, it would be with a walking stick."
What followed were a few weeks of self-reflection which gave Annette the faith not to give up.
"I would get up and have a shower, then have to go back to bed for three hours because I was so exhausted. I lay in bed just thinking, 'What am I going to do?'"
"Then my husband took me to see Leeann, and she said, 'I'll have you doing triathlons yet!'."
"I'd never learned to swim, I've never been much of a sporty person, and I just never liked going out past where I could stand," Annette said.
It was Leeann that changed all of that.
"I decided Annette needed to set a goal to work towards. The Jetty Swim was that goal," Leeann said.
"She decided on a charity, and we started getting sponsors for the swim."
Now, after intense training and hard work, Annette is not only walking about freely and climbing stairs she is ready to take to the water on February 24.
She's also raised almost $2500 in sponsorship for her chosen charity, Friends of the Family.
"I'm so overwhelmed by everyone's support," Annette said.
"The support from my family, from my church, and from people who I don't even know who have sponsored me."
"I just think it's amazing. I'm excited, but a little nervous about the swim, but I think I'm ready. I know Leeann is going to be with me she has been my motivation and my inspiration.
"Thanks to her, I can walk completely unaided, I can walk up and down stairs everything I was told I would never do again."
Leeann couldn't be prouder of Annette.
"She's just an inspiration. She's shown enormous faith, and she's never given up."
Annette was also told she would never work again because of her disability, but has now completed a basic computer skills course with ETC and is looking for a job that involves working with people.
Annette has one simple philosophy: never give up.
"I see people walking with a walking stick and I know how they feel. I just want them to know not to give up. It doesn't matter what people say, where there's life, there's hope."
"Next year she'll be doing a traithlon," Leeann added.!
If you would like to sponsor Annette for the Jetty Swim on February 24, you can call her on 6653 2707.