Winton teen keen to help her town

Bailley Unahi wants to give back to the community that rallied to support her after a tragic accident last year left her paralysed.  The 19-year-old, from Winton, suffered spinal injuries in a balcony collapse during a Six60 concert in Dunedin in March 2016. 

During her recovery, a Givealittle page was set up and thousands of dollars were raised.  Now almost 12 months later, Unahi is back at home and in training for the Winton Fun Run next month, with the funds raised going to the Winton Community Pool.  She’s using the fun run as her way of giving back and she’s encouraging others to join her to raise money for the struggling facility.  “The pool is really important to Winton; not many small communities still have their own pool and I’d like to see ours retained”.

A competitive swimmer in the past, she said she saw the fun run as the perfect opportunity for her to support a facility which was valued in the town.  “The community has been amazing in helping me, so this is a chance for me to give back. “I want to get back and be involved, rather than always being on the outside.”

A new “Stricker” hand cycle, from Germany, which clipped on to her wheelchair and allowed her to bike using her hands, was the catalyst in allowing her to take part in the fun run.  An avid sportsperson, Unahi said the cycle, which was delivered two weeks ago, would give her the independence she needed.  “It allows me to get back into exercise and to get out and about.  “I can bike to someone’s house, unclip the cycle and go inside.  It gives me lots of freedom.”

Determined to get on with her life, Unahi had already completed an Outward Bound course, is about to travel to Australia on holiday and will begin studying occupational therapy at Otago Polytechnic this year.  “I don’t want to look back, I just want to go forward.”

Unahi will compete in the 12km section of the event, which is being held on March 5, the one-year anniversary of her accident.

By Mary Witsey, taken from the Southland Times 13 February 2017.