Full steam ahead for Ben

Cecilia AllenSound Telegraph
Ben Sainsbury, 16, with Uncle Neil Dunne.
Camera IconBen Sainsbury, 16, with Uncle Neil Dunne. Credit: Cecilia Allen

Ben Sainsbury, who was seriously injured in a motocross accident last year, is determined not to let his injury get in the way as he prepares for a busy year at school and TAFE.

The 16-year-old Rockingham Senior High School student was training for a State competition when he was injured at his local track in September.

The experienced rider was flung over his handlebars as he rode over a jump, landing head- first before his motorbike slammed into his back, shattering two vertebrae and damaging his spinal cord.

Considered a T5 paraplegic, it is unknown if Ben will walk again but he and his family remain optimistic he will.

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“It’s all a bit unknown but Ben is not short of determination,” sister Cassie Strebel said.

Anytime Fitness in Kwinana has offered Ben a free gym membership, where he will attend with his physiotherapist to work on his fitness and strength.

“The main focus will be to get Ben back into the gym and into places where he can find other avenues and different treatments,” Mrs Strebel said.

“His focus is to keep as strong as he can, so if any trials come up, he would be a good candidate for them.”

Ben left hospital just before Christmas and will continue physiotherapy as an outpatient at Fiona Stanley Hospital but hopes to attend NeuroMoves, a service based in Joondalup, that works with people with spinal cord injuries to enhance function and mobility.

It costs up to $50,000 a year to attend NeuroMoves and, although $32,654 has been raised through a Go Fund Me page set up by a friend to assist Ben, ongoing donations are needed to assist with other costs, such as specialised exercise equipment to help strengthen his upper body.

I’m hoping to get a stand-up easy glider,

Ben said. “It’s a stand-up frame but it’s like a cross-trainer. So you get out of your wheelchair, hop on the seat and crank the handle and it stands you up.

“That piece alone is $14,000. We’ve found that out — anything involved with a wheelchair is expensive.”

Mrs Strebel said family and friends continued to raise funds to assist with ongoing costs.

“We’re really thankful for all the support so far and any continued support is appreciated for things like NeroMoves and buying equipment for home,” she said.

“The NDIS doesn’t really cover that as such.”

Ben and his parents are living with Ben’s aunt and uncle, Debbie and Neil Dunne, as his parents have recently sold their home and are looking for a new one.

Because the Dunnes have a family friend who is a quadriplegic and another friend who is paraplegic, their home is suited for wheelchairs, with ramps and shower accessibility. When Ben’s parents find a new home it may need to be modified to allow for wheelchair access, which is also costly.

“We’re really thankful to Aunty Debbie and Uncle Neil for letting them stay,” Mrs Strebel said.

Between physio and attending his final year at school, Ben also aims to complete a Certificate III in Engineering and learn to drive.

“He has to redo driving lessons because it’s a different system,” Mrs Strebel said.

Ben said he was thankful to his TAFE lecturer, Doug Franklyn, who assisted him with his pre-apprenticeship in electrical and helped him get into engineering.

“He came up to the hospital every week and helped me finish and brought me my exam,” he said.

“He went above and beyond. The school was also good in helping me finish off the year and fundraise.”

Ben is also looking at other ways to get back into motorsports, such as buggy racing.

“The only thing holding me back at the moment is my surgeon — he’s told me to rest for 18 months but I have a meeting with him soon to see how I’m going.”

Visit Boots Out for Ben on Facebook or gofundme.com/supporting-bens-road-to-recovery.

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