Lerona was just 5 years old when she became paralysed after a spinal cord injury. On the way home from primary school, the car she was travelling in was hit by another car. Her seat belt snapped and she and another passenger in the back collided at force.
The driver of the other vehicle was under the influence of alcohol. Lerona suffered a spinal cord injury at T12/L1 level - the pelvic area - causing loss of all movement and feeling below her hips.
Lerona doesn’t remember much about the accident, but for her mother, Sue, it was a devastating and frightening time. She spent all her time at Lerona’s hospital bedside, worried sick about her child. But after six months in hospital she returned home to her family, learning to use a wheelchair to get around and come to terms with her paralysis.
Her family made the adaptions to their home needed to assist her changed life such as ramps, an internal lift, and space to accommodate her wheelchair and other equipment. They made sure that paralysis wouldn’t stop their daughter from living a fulfilling life and making the most of opportunities. And it certainly didn’t, she returned to school six months later.
With her supportive parents and school, she did well in her studies and gained a place studying Philosophy at Birmingham University. On her gap year beforehand, she met Nick and they became friends. They discovered they were both taking their degrees at Birmingham University and decided to share accommodation. It wasn’t long after that they realised they were in love with each other. In 2012 they married, and, after a few years, their first child Indy was born, followed by their second daughter Rayelle in October 2017.
But living with paralysis does present its own set of challenges. Lerona says that “I’m sure most Mums can find the time and jump in the shower for a few minutes and get ready. Because of my spinal cord injury, my toilet, shower and dressing routine takes at least an hour every day, so I can only do this when I have that hour. And with two young girls it is quite rare. If research could help me have more control over this, so it is less time consuming and awkward, it would make my life so much easier."
"Or when I am pushing my wheelchair I cannot hold my daughter's hand, so being near roads and in busy places causes me anxiety. I couldn’t just run after her if she ran off."
Lerona’s family have supported Spinal Research since shortly after her injury in 1987, including putting on a celebrity show attended by our Patron Princess Diana, and continue to do so. Her brother, Sivan, undertook 10 challenges in 2018 to raise £10,000 for our research. These included a skydive, Tough Mudder, a solo Three Peak run, and the Thames 100 km Path Challenge. He also finds time to help us with collections at tube stations bringing his daughter Jessica to help.