Paraplegic plans to catch waves on special board

'It would be like getting my freedom back'

ANNA TURNER
Last updated 05:00 14/12/2012
Mike Brown

PADDLE POWER: Paraplegic Mike Brown's brother has raised $5000 for a custom surfboard - or wave-ski - so he can get out on the water at Sumner.

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Mike Brown does not remember the impact as the car hit him.

All he recalls is "screaming, running, people, sirens and questions".

The Christchurch man had been longboarding to a park to meet wife Kirsten and 3-year-old son Ocean when a car came around a corner and hit him.

"I'm twisted on the cold bitumen, breathless, pain of biblical proportions radiating from my spine, blood gushing from my head," he said.

Brown was rushed to hospital for emergency surgery and was told he had severe spinal damage.

At 35, Brown faced the reality that he was a paraplegic.

"It was a huge shock. I was a really outdoorsy kind of guy. I climbed Mt Cook several times and sailed across the Pacific. Suddenly, I wasn't sure I could do all that.

"It was probably the worst blow I could have imagined to take all that away."

The family, who had been living in Australia at the time the accident happened in July, moved back to Christchurch to start a new stage of their lives.

To help Brown with his recovery, his brother, Jeffrey, began fundraising to buy a custom-made surfboard for him.

"He just organised this whole thing off his own bat to help me get back on the water. It's incredible.

"I love surfing. It used to be my freedom. It was something I saw myself doing until I was an old man," Brown said.

"If I could get back on this surfboard and out on the water, it would be like getting my freedom back."

Jeffrey had so far raised $5410 to pay for the surfboard, which was being made in California to fit Brown's measurements.

"I looked at different kinds of surfboards for paraplegics and actually tried a type where you lie down, but I found that really demoralising," Mike Brown said.

"The kind I've gone for is called a wave-ski, where you have a kayak paddle and you sit in a moulded seat so you don't slide out. This way, I'll get to sit up and see where I'm going like an able-bodied person."

The funds raised will also pay for a system enabling Brown to get from the car into the water, as well as accessories such as a wetsuit.

The money has especially come in handy as Brown has not been able to work since his accident and was not covered by ACC.

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