Girl raises funds for disabled pal

2014-03-04 00:00

A DURBAN pupil smiled as she exited the school’s swimming pool on Saturday after she had completed 100 laps in 40 minutes to raise funds for a disabled friend of the family.

Tasmin van Straaten (12), a Grade 7 pupil at Chelsea Preparatory school, had set herself the challenge after hearing that Keith Slabbert (25) and his family were trying to raise R200 000 so he can join America’s Project Walk spinal cord injury recovery programme.

On Saturday, Tasmin took on her school pool and though she was tired, swam 100 laps in 40 minutes and raised R23 000 for Slabbert. Tasmin said despite the exhaustion she kept smiling and thinking about Slabbert, which kept her going.

Slabbert’s mother, Dorothy, said the programme focuses on using specific exercises that are related to the same movement patterns that occur during human development.

“Through this we hope to re-establish patterned neural activity within the central nervous system,” she added.

Slabbert grew up as an active boy who was playful and his parents bought him his first motorbike when he was five years old.

The lover of outdoor activities and socialising soon gave up his motorbike for the ocean. He started surfing and was always the last one to leave the water — he loved it dearly.

Slabbert also played tennis and went out with friends almost every weekend.

But in August 2012, his life took a dramatic turn when he woke up with a seizure, causing him to fall off his bed and resulting in his fracturing his C4 cervical vertebrae.

He was left paralysed from the chest down.

But now he is on a journey to recovery and is focusing on his physiotherapy.

It has not been an easy ride –– but Slabbert says even people that do not know him personally have lent their helping hand –– just like Tasmin.

Tasmin’s proud mom said her daughter had never stopped asking her about Slabbert’s incident in 2012.

“He became the topic. She’d asked if Keith is walking again and I’d say, ‘not yet’.”

Slabbert said he was grateful for Tasmin’s gesture.

“I think it’s amazing for her to come up with something like that,” he told The Witness.

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