Dedicated to a cure: David Pretorius is on a quest for a cure to spinal cord injuries video

Jay Boreham/STUFF.CO.NZ

David Pretorius won't stop till a cure is found for his daughter Holly's spinal injury.

When David Pretorius crossed the line in last year's New York Marathon he realised there will be no finish for him until he sees his daughter Holly walk again.

The stockbroker from Dairy Flat, north Auckland, ran to raise money for the The CatWalk Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) Research Trust and will lead a team of seven again at this year's New York Marathon on November 6 in the hopes of raising more funds so doctors and scientists can continue work which one day will cure his daughters paralysis.

Holly, 13, was paralysed from the waist down in a car accident on East Coast Rd in Redvale on March 12, 2010, when she was six.

Holly Pretorius with dad David and her horse Myra.

Holly Pretorius with dad David and her horse Myra.

The day is etched into the minds of David and his family.

READ MORE:  Royal Zara Phillips praises Kiwi research into spinal injuries

Holly, her sister Alexandra and brother Adam were returning home from school with their grandmother when the accident happened.

Holly's injuries have never got her down and she enjoys most activities that able bodied people do.

Holly's injuries have never got her down and she enjoys most activities that able bodied people do.

Four-year-old Adam died and Holly received critical injuries.

"The seatbelt almost cut her in half," David says.

Holly was placed in an induced coma for six days, needed metal plates inserted into her neck and brain surgery to reduce swelling to survive.

Daid Pretorius in the 2015 New York Marathon

Daid Pretorius in the 2015 New York Marathon

"I still wonder how my wife Natasha and I got through those early days - they are now a fog of pain, stress and the ultimate heartache. The agony of losing Adam will never go away.

Ad Feedback

"I stumbled around for months afterwards, trying to find something with which to distract myself. That distraction has come in the form of the quest for the cure for spinal cord injury. 

"I have dedicated my life to the cure."

Three years ago David met CatWalk trust founder Catriona Williams who shares his dream of finding a cure.

Catriona, formerly one of New Zealand's leading international equestrian riders, was confined to a wheelchair following a riding accident in 2002.

Spinal cord injuries from a shattering fall left Catriona a C6/C7 tetraplegic.

Friends rallied to fund raise for her in her time of need, but Catriona's dream was for a cure.

So CatWalk was born to support researchers in  a realistic bid for a cure for SCI and has helped fund the Centre for Brain Research's Spinal Cord Injury Research Facility at the University of Auckland since 2011.

Around 130 to180 people a year are diagnosed with an SCI, according to ACC.

The country's researchers and facilities are contributing to a global and growing body of scientific evidence that shows a cure for SCI will be found.

However, there is no strategic investment programme for research, which remains underfunded compared to other major health conditions.

"The scientific evidence is mounting every day – through further research, we can achieve a reduction in permanent paralysis to Kiwis in the future, and an improved quality of life and independence for those living with a SCI today." Catriona says.

The downstream benefits of SCI research go beyond the impacts on SCI patients, contributing to benefits for other central nervous system conditions like strokes, multiple sclerosis and dementia, she says.

Holly remembers little from the accident, having blacked out on impact.

Her young age at the time and a dedicated family means being in a wheelchair seems not to have affected her life much.

"I can still do most things that able bodied people can, obviously not walking, but activities like horse riding," she says.

The first thing she would do if she could walk again would be to try out for a movie, Holly says.

But the aspiring actor still plans to try out for films or broadway, or be a business woman.

With medical advances snow balling David hopes a cure will be found in Holly's lifetime.

"But I think we have to be be realistic and be patient.

"There is a dedicated effort going on around the world to cure this, but it is extremely complex and takes an awful lot of time and effort, " he says.

Not being a scientist or doctor David, who is now deputy chairman of CatWalk, says all he can do is help raise funds so work for a cure can continue.

CatWalks efforts at last year's New York Marathon raised over $125,000, and this year his team hopes to raise $30,000 more.

Go to CatWalk to donate or learn more about others in the CatWalk team such as Olympic rower Rebecca Scown.

 - Stuff

Ad Feedback
special offers

One house but two homes video

The house is designed with two distinct "wings" to give each couple their own space. The only shared space is the foyer.

Buying a first home in Auckland's Grey Lynn was little more than a dream for two young couples - until they pooled their resources.

'We're just thrilled he's here'

Alec Gannaway celebrates his birthday at Auckland City Hospital surrounded by family. From left: sister Rose, mum Joy ...

Two weeks ago, Alec Gannaway was dragged by a car and put in a coma. Today, he's 21.

Senior cop sex complaint

A police officer is under investigation after it was alleged he harassed and molested a woman more than 10 years ago ...

Woman claims she was harassed and sexually assaulted over several years - and was nicknamed 'Spice'.

Girl missing for three weeks

Tamia Apaapa was reported missing on March 27 and was last seen in school uniform.

Tamia Apaapa, missing since March, made contact with her family on Monday evening.


Rare falcon shot dead

Doc is outraged after a rare falcon was killed in Nikau Valley, Paraparaumu.

DoC furious over killing of protected bird, which could lead to jail sentence or a $100k fine.

Capital's mystery jet

A jet with blocked details landed at Wellington Airport on Monday evening.

Gulfstream jet with blocked flight tracker credentials touches down in Wellington.

Councillor under investigation

Kapiti Coast District councillor David Scott has denied any wrongdoing for his part in the alleged incident with a ...

Kapiti councillor David Scott accused of grabbing senior manager's hips and 'pressing' himself against her.

Claim of brawl at club rugby game

A player was allegedly kicked in the head following a Stokes Valley v Johnsonville match on Saturday. (FILE)

Alleged thuggery mars J'ville v Stokes Valley match: "It was the worst s--t I've seen in my life."


McNicholl's WWI escapades

George McNicholl's enlistment form, dated May 11, 1916. McNicholl caused many headaches during his time with the NZ ...

George McNicholl was hardly an exemplary soldier. In fact, detail of combat service is almost non-existent.

Camping cost rise

Rob Campbell, left and Leah Greenwood, play snap with their children Will Campbell, 7, and Bonnie Campbell, 5, while ...

A price increase at a Christchurch camp ground could put holiday out of reach.

Brownlee recalibrates for role

Gerry Brownlee is our new Foreign Affairs minister.

Brownlee switches from combative to diplomatic as he prepares for new role.

Funeral home OKed

Halswell residents are upset at plans by Lamb and Hayward to build a multi-million dollar funeral home on the corner of ...

Residents are vowing to fight the decision to approve a Halswell "spiritual facility".


Buck's close calls in the sky

Buck Pound was a Wellington bomber pilot in World War II, and reached the rank of flight lieutenant.

Three times the Kiwi bomber pilot thought the end was near.

Two sides of the trench

21042017 News Photo: DOMINICO ZAPATA
News: Bulent Yaprak and Caren Yaprak (Kiwi/Turk and Kiwi wife) discuss what ANZAC ...

There's always another side to the story. Want to hear the other side of Anzac Day? Ask a Turkish Kiwi.

Live: Anzac Day services

The Anzac Dawn Service at Hamilton Memorial Gardens.

Crowds gathered in the cold to pay their respect as Anzac services got underway.

Riders killed in crash named

State Highway 1 near Tokoroa was closed for more than six hours after the crash.

Two men were driving along SH1 near Tokoroa when they died in a crash involving a truck.


Anzac Day commemorations gallery video

Anzac dawn service at the Hamilton Memorial Gardens.

Thousands gathered around the country on Tuesday morning for Anzac Day dawn services.

Stratford at Dawn

Isaac Burrows, 15, from the Stratford District Air Training Corps stood guard among the crosses.

Stratford's dawn service was one of many held around Taranaki this Anzac Day.

More info needed

South Taranaki iwi oppose Trans Tasman Resources to mine the seabed for iron ore

New seabed mining information sought will push out the decision date.

The grey ghosts video

Vietnam Veteran Mike Morrison was shot in the chest while serving in Vietnam in 1970.

Vietnam was an unpopular war, but three Taranaki soldiers who went away were proud to serve their country.


Fighting through pain

Aimee Perrett knew something was wring when she jumped on the bike.

Aimee Perrett completed an ironman race despite the effects of a rare disease.

Live: Anzac Day 

The Anzac Dawn Service at Hamilton Memorial Gardens.

Crowds gathered in the cold morning to pay their respect as Anzac services got under way from dawn.

Grand prix to stay

Manfeild Chief executive Julie Keane says the Feilding venue is committed to growing the New Zealand Grand Prix.

Manfeild fights off two other venues to keep the New Zealand Grand Prix. 

Slip closes Manawatu Gorge

The Manawatu Gorge is closed following a slip.

A slip has blocked both lanes of the Manawatu Gorge, closing it overnight.


Early risers honour fallen in Nelson

Anzac Day dawn parade and service at Anzac Memorial Park, Nelson.

Thousands of people woke before dawn to attend Anzac Day commemorations in Nelson.

Doctor's costly error

Kenneth Michael Wolnak has admitted careless driving causing death and injury.

Heart surgeon ordered to pay $165,000 for causing two deaths in a horrific Nelson crash.

New life for Anzac solider's Rolex

Joel Whitwell of Benjamin Black Goldsmiths and Jackie Cook with a World War I era Rolex watch. Cook asked the Goldsmiths ...

Harold Williams left a WWI Rolex for his family, now they have given it a new lease of life.

Smith's demotion on drip-feed video

Gerry Brownlee has been handed the foreign minister's job vacated by Murray McCully.

OPINION: The tougher and more "political" call in Monday's reshuffle was Nick Smith's demotion.


'It's a reality check'

Dawn services at the Seddon Memorial Hall.

Friends, family remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice in Anzac commemoration.

A soldier's life

Anzac soldier Rodger Kearney wrote a diary during World War II and his great grandson, Ben Hulburt, left, and daughter, ...

An Anzac soldier's diary of his World War II experiences leaves a lasting legacy for his family.

'The supreme sacrifice'

Australian Army veteran Betty Binnie gets her two remounted medals pinned to her chest by RAAF Squadron Leader Marcus Watson.

Rocked to the core in recent years by earthquakes, the people of Ward stand strong to remember the fallen this Anzac day.

Man finally gets lawyer

A Blenheim man has spent two weeks in Christchurch Men's Prison without a lawyer while on remand for robbery and wilful ...

He spent two weeks in prison after being arrested due to "administrative error".

South Canterbury

New book on war hero

Tom O'Connor has published a book on Waimate war hero Eric Batchelor.

The life of one of New Zealand's most decorated soldiers has been detailed in new book.

Man killed in crash

One man is dead after a crash on Freehold Creek Bridge at Lake Ohau.

One person has died after a single-vehicle crash on a bridge in the Waitaki District.

Acid spill investigated

Leaking acid prompted an emergency response at the Redruth Resource Recovery Centre on Monday.

Investigation launched after acid leaks from containers at Redruth landfill site.

Realities of war recalled video

World War II veteran Bill Cocks receives Anzac biscuits baked by YMCA Oscar holiday programme participant Hunter Duggan, ...

Timaru children have heard about the realities of war from South Canterbury veterans.


Live: Anzac Day services

The Anzac Dawn Service at Hamilton Memorial Gardens.

Crowds gathered in the cold morning to pay their respect as Anzac services got under way from dawn.

Anzac services gallery video

Anzac dawn service at the Hamilton Memorial Gardens.

Crowds have gathered for dawn services around the country.

The watchmaker at Cassino

Cassino under bombing.

Warren Warburton's working life was about beauty and precision. His war wasn't.

Five Eyes in city?

Passengers disembark the United States Of America aircraft at Invercargill airport.

An unusual landing at Invercargill Airport may have been visitors for Five Eyes.

Ad Feedback