Marayke may be down, but she'll fight to reach her goal
MARAYKE Jonkers has taken to fundraising from a hospital bed after a freak infection forced her to cancel a charity golf day at the eleventh hour.
The triple Paralympic medallist only has until the end of the week to raise the $24,500 needed modify her silver Volkswagen courier van before her government approval to fundraise expires.
Although she was still uncertain what lay ahead for her treatment and recovery, Ms Jonkers had been burning the midnight oil and set up an online auction from her hospital bed in a last ditch effort to realise her dream of independence.
After four years of seeking government funding, Ms Jonkers was only able to secure a maximum of $8000, nowhere near the $75,000 needed to be able to drive herself independently with customised steering and ramps.
But given the number of set-backs she has endured during the government-approved fundraising period, including her best friend and chief fundraiser being hit by a car at the start of their campaign, Ms Jonkers hoped the online auction would net enough to accommodate her safely as a passenger in the van.
Ms Jonkers is awaiting surgery in the Princess Alexandra Hospital after an infection was found in one of the metal rods she had installed in her back during surgery for scoliosis at the age of 13.
Ms Jonkers was pulled out of her wheelchair and crashed to the ground while walking a trainee assistance dog in January, causing a large wound on her foot.
When she found a "strange lump" on her back a few weeks ago, everything escalated quickly.
"They said an infection had made its way from the wound into the metal rods in my back," she said.
"I am now in week two and I am still on IV antibiotics while the doctors debate what to do with me."
Injury forced Ms Jonkers to retire from swimming and she began working as a motivational speaker and travel writer and volunteered as president of her Sporting Dreams charity.
She was later diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome, which affects her upper body and left her unable to use the manual wheelchair she could easily fit into her car.
Having the electric wheelchair meant Ms Jonkers could no longer driver herself to work engagements, restricting the income she needed to support herself.
"Imagine if every time you went to work you ended up bedridden for up to a week afterwards due to inappropriate transport," Ms Jonkers said.
"It has been challenging to go from being an athlete so strong I could my own body weight with one arm to so weak I drop a piece of toast, but my mind is fine and I'm very determined to continue working."
Among the treasure trove of unique experiences and signed merchandise in the online auction is a swimming clinic with Olympic Gold medallist Melanie Wright (nee Schlanger) and Olympian Chris Wright and a luxury dinner with Olympic gold medallist Alicia Coutts.