Fundraiser to help young gymnast walk again

By RON FANFAIR

When the going gets tough, the tough gets going.

It’s been almost 10 months since teenage gymnast, Taylor Lindsay-Noel, broke her neck last July in a training accident while attempting a dismount on the parallel bars. Life has changed dramatically for the gifted student, pianist and elite athlete and her mother, Rowena Lindsay, who still holds hope that her only child will walk again.

Lindsay took a leave of absence from her job as a human resources consultant with the City of Toronto to be with her daughter as she undergoes extensive rehabilitation at the Bloorview Kids Centre. She has also filed a lawsuit against Sport Seneca Club and its coach Brian McVey and the governing bodies for the sport in Canada and Ontario, claiming that the accident was due to gross negligence.

“My daughter was coerced into doing a maneuver on the high bar (toe on, double somersault) which has never been successfully performed by another human being and to date has not been named or recognized by the Federation of International Gymnastics,” claims Lindsay.

Lindsay-Noel, who was considered a leading prospect to represent Canada at the 2012 London Olympics, was enrolled in the Seneca gymnastics program where she trained and attended classes for nearly a decade. She, like all of the program participants who reach high school level, moved to Northview Heights Secondary School in the fall of 2007 to start Grade Nine.

Over the past few months, Lindsay has been actively engaged in campaigns to raise awareness about spinal cord sports-related injuries, and fundraisers to enable her daughter to pursue non-traditional therapy not covered under Canada’s health care system and take care of other expenses.

At the moment, Lindsay-Noel is undergoing extensive rehabilitation that involves muscle activation, nerve re-generation, massage therapy and different types of holistic therapy and biomechanical manipulation of the body to use compensation and reduce muscle atrophy.

“We are looking at aggressive rehabilitation that includes acupuncture and alternative methods,” said Lindsay. “We are thinking outside the box and considering trying everything, including Project Walk, to help my daughter walk again.”

Project Walk is internationally recognized as a pioneer in the emerging field of exercise-based recovery for spinal cord injuries. Located in Carlsbad, California, the organization has worked with a multitude of clients from around the world since 1999 and boasts experienced spinal cord injury recovery specialists and some of the most advanced equipment designed to treat this injury.

Also high on Lindsay’s “to-do” list is the search for accessible accommodation for her daughter who is expected to be released from Bloorview shortly.

“I will either have to make major modifications to my current residence or find a place that has all the requirements for someone confined to a wheelchair,” said Lindsay. “It has been quite a financial strain for me and this is the reason why I am so grateful to individuals and organizations that have put on fundraisers for Taylor.”

They include family friend and event planner, Selbert Boothe, who has co-ordinated a benefit gala to be held on Saturday at Metro Hall, 55 John St., starting at 7 p.m. The event comprises a reception gala, silent auction, fashion show and performances by Sport Seneca club gymnasts and pannist Earl LaPierre jnr.

“I have known the family for nearly 10 years and I can understand what they are going through,” said Boothe who is also a fashion designer. “I lost two nephews, one of whom was my favourite, to gun violence in Jamaica two years ago. They were innocent victims and I have still not recovered from the shock. I know what Rowena is going through and how difficult it is for her to deal with this tragedy.”

The price of admission is $50.

On May 31, Lindsay-Noel will be a special guest at the11th annual Amanda Belzowski fund-raising Lemonade Stand at 10 Brian Cliff Dr. (Lawrence Ave. E. and Leslie St.) from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Donations to Lindsay-Noel can be made through her website at www.teamtaylor.ca or at any CIBC branch. The account number is 07312 77-59185.

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