Community support warms the heart

THE generosity of the local community has done wonders for the family of Duncan Sawyer, the Coffs Harbour teenager left a quadriplegic after a pushbike accident at Macauleys Headland.

Almost a year since his accident and the 19-year-old continues to show a fighting spirit as he adapts to his tough situation in a Sydney rehabilitation ward.

His wheelchair, which he refers to “as his wheels”, was purchased using $10,000 raised through a community foundation set up in his honour. Duncan’s mother, Donna Ford, said the generosity of locals had been astounding.

Returning to Coffs Harbour for a brief stay, Ms Ford again contacted The Coffs Coast Advocate to pass on her thanks to everyone who donated.

The grateful mother of three also wanted to make special mention of Sawtell Disabled Surfers patron Barney Miller.

Barney and fellow organisers of the Barney Miller Surf Classic raised a further $8000 to be put towards Duncan’s medical bills in November.

“Barney has been amazing in his support of Duncan. I’m just so sorry I haven’t had a chance until now to say a big thank you to him for all that he has done for us,” Ms Ford said.

“He knows exactly what Duncan is going through and he really pitched in and helped us.”

Struggling to find a modified home to rent in Coffs Harbour, Ms Ford said her family may move to Brisbane in the coming months.

“There is a spinal unit in Brisbane, which we are told is like Project Walk here in Australia,” she said.

Project Walk is the breakthrough American rehabilitation program Barney Miller is attending.

“Duncan continues to undergo intense physiotherapy, there is not much feeling in his legs, but he is getting some sensation in areas where he hasn’t before.

“He is also getting some of his independence back, taking himself for trips to the local shops and getting out of the rehabilitation ward whenever he can.

“Hope is all we have and Duncan is making steady progress, so thank you again to everyone who has helped us.”

During his time in Sydney Duncan has also been supported by NRL team the Canterbury Bulldogs.

Team captain Andrew Ryan has paid regular visits to the rehabilitation ward and presented Duncan with a club life membership.

To support Duncan email: or contact Donna on 0447 899 784.

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