Family's quest to get wheels for quadriplegic dad

2015-08-10 07:30
Trevor Ward on the day he fell 17m while hiking on Table Mountain (Supplied by Ward family)

Trevor Ward on the day he fell 17m while hiking on Table Mountain (Supplied by Ward family)

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Cape Town - "When your legs can’t run anymore, run with your heart".

In an uncanny coincidence, these words on a Sanlam marathon advert turned out to be prophetic for 53-year old Trevor Ward, one of the runners captured in the advert’s accompanying photograph.

Three months later, on May 1, the experienced hiker took a devastating 17m fall while on a Table Mountain trail with his family and friends. He is now a quadriplegic.

While the once active man has started to crack jokes from his hospital bed, he continues to receive counselling and medication to stabilise his mood.

It’s a hard pill for everyone to swallow as his life used to be filled with outdoor activities such as family hikes and camping trips.

His family is desperately trying to raise funds to pay medical costs and get him a specialised wheelchair as well as other lifestyle-improving equipment for when he is back home.


"The words in that ad really became a catchphrase for us. When Trevor was in ICU [Intensive Care Unit], I printed out various sayings to put next to his bed," his wife Carol Ward, 53, told News24.

Trevor Ward

Trevor and Carol Ward at his hospital bed (Supplied by Ward family)

"The one saying is 'Where there is life, there is hope'. It’s a case of you have to deal with what’s been given to you and make the most of your life. Whatever it takes for me to make the most of Trevor’s life, I am going to do that."

Through a campaign, a raffle and other initiatives, they have so far raised around R30 000 of the initial target of R100 000, needed to cover costs not covered by the medical aid and to allow Carol to take care of him at their Bothasig residence.

It has not been an easy adjustment for the couple and their three children, aged 21, 29 and 33.

Carol, who stayed at home while her husband worked as a technician, has had to learn how to drive. But with all the stress, she has failed her test three times and is taking a breather before trying again.

She visits her husband of 30 years daily. After a number of surgeries to his neck and shoulder, he is set to be released from the rehabilitation unit next month.

Three-hour rescue

Ward laughs when she thinks about one of the first things he asked about when he was still on a ventilator in ICU and they had to communicate with an alphabetical board and body language.

"One of the first words he spelt out was budgie. We have a budgie at home and when we got it years ago, he moaned like mad because he said birds mess.

"But in the end he was always the one who opened the cage to feed it and clean up.

"When he asked if the bird was okay, it made us realise he is still the same old Trevor."

It is still unclear what exactly caused him to fall while on the India Venster trail that fateful May morning.

He has been hiking most his life, had done that route many times before and was a part of the Hikers Network Rescue Team, affiliated to Wilderness Search and Rescue.

Members of his team assisted in his three-hour rescue from the section of mountain just beneath the upper cable car station. Heavy mist prevented a helicopter from retrieving him at first.


"After scans and x-rays, the doctor said he was quadriplegic. I heard it and realised he wouldn’t have said it unless it was true but at the same time I was still hoping it wasn’t true," his wife said.

"Doctors also said recovery from Trevor’s injuries was extremely rare and it would basically take a miracle."

On Father’s Day, nursing staff arranged to take his hospital bed out to the parking lot. He stared at the mountain, contrasted by a bright blue sky, for the first time since the accident.

Carol is realistic but hopeful.

"I am very, very aware of exactly how different things are going to be in the future. The things we did for fun will most likely be out of the question. But I am already thinking of things we can do."

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