Fundraiser aims to help injured farmer back into his garden
IT HAS been almost a year since farmer Gavin Boekel was injured by a grain auger, leaving him confined to a wheelchair, and now a local organisation is raising funds to help him get back to his garden.
Supported by his wife Chelle and their children, Mr Boekel's recovery has been marred by complications and additional operations, and the family is now contending with another obstacle as the layout of their house is not wheelchair-friendly.
"Gavin can't get out on the pergola, he can't get out into the backyard, he's trapped in a few rooms of the house," Mrs Boekel said.
"He's been a farmer all his life, so he's used to being outdoors a lot. He's going a little stir-crazy, being confined to four walls is like a prison sentence."
With Mrs Boekel an ADF veteran, the family's situation drew the attention of Sam Kavanagh, founder of Gatton-based veteran's support group Bootstraps.
Mr Kavanagh and Member for Lockyer Jim McDonald visited the Boekel's house, to offer their support.
"To have Jim and Sam come up and knock on the door to ask how they can help was really special," Mrs Boekel said.
"We're very grateful. Bootstraps has gone above and beyond."
After meeting with Mr Boekel and his family, Mr Kavanagh has come up with a plan to improve wheelchair accessibility to outdoor areas in the yard.
"My goal is to return a bit of normalcy to Gavin's life. I'd like to see him be able to join with his kids to play in the backyard and do some gardening in raised garden beds," Mr Kavanagh said.
"To improve access to the backyard for Gavin, we need to build a concrete path around the side of his home so that he can access the yard via the driveway.
"We would also like to build some raised garden beds so that Gavin can reignite his love for gardening and grow some vegies for his family."
Construction of a small wheelchair-accessible external pergola is also included in the plan to serve as a sun safe outdoor area that Mr Boekel's family can use all year round.
'We've scoped out the works with a qualified tradesman and the total project cost will be approximately $8000 and can be undertaken in a COVID-19 safe manner," Mr Kavanagh said. "Unfortunately, we don't currently have the funds we need to do the work and that's why we need support. If people can spare even just a few dollars that'll go a long way towards seeing our goals achieved."
Mrs Boekel said the works would be a massive boost to Mr Boekel and the rest of the family.
"He can come out and see the chickens, see the vegie patch, tend to the gardens," she said.
"It gives him something to look forward to."
Mr McDonald joined Mr Kavanagh in calling for the community to get behind Bootstraps by kickstarting the donations to this cause.
"Bootstraps is an incredible organisation who have the opportunity and capacity to do some great work," he said.
"All they need to help Gavin and his family is a little help from the community to raise the necessary funds."
As a registered not for profit charity, Bootstraps is reliant on fundraisers and donations to continue operations.
To donate to Bootstraps, visit their website.ok