When opportunity wheels by

Friday 22 May 2020

National Volunteer Week is a time to celebrate and give thanks to those who help to support various initiatives by donating their valuable time and skills.

Lachy Chapman started volunteering with Mater Research over a year ago, and during this time has worked with researchers Hsu-Wen Tseng, Kylie Alexander and Professor Jean-Pierre Levesque in the area of spinal cord injuries.

In February 2018, Lachy suffered a terrible fall that resulted in a T8 spinal cord injury which turned his life upside-down. His injury meant he would no longer be able to do the job he loved as an electrician.

Instead of falling apart, the months that followed saw Lachy travel a road of self-discovery. Opportunity knocked on his door and so began Lachy’s journey with Spinal Life Australia. With the goal of creating safer travel for wheelchair users, Lachy worked to map the streets of South Brisbane to help wheelchair users navigate the precinct with confidence. This work lead him to his current role as an advocate for Spinal Life Australia in Inclusive Health.

But why volunteer with Mater Research?

“For me, one of the biggest highlights has been seeing the amazing work Professor Jean-Pierre Levesque and his team are doing on Heterotopic Bone Ossifications—a debilitating condition that is common amongst people living with spinal cord injuries. It has been incredibly uplifting to be a part of this. Also, meeting the team and seeing the facilities they use to do their research was mind blowing—stuff you often only get to see on the TV.

“After sustaining a spinal cord injury­—and now facing many of the same problems my peers do—my main goal was to contribute to the community and help in any way that I possibly could, to create a better future for others living with spinal cord injuries,” said Lachy.

By supporting the team as a volunteer, Lachy helps to shape future research.

“Without people volunteering their time to help drive this kind of research, it would not be possible. If you are passionate about helping others, striving for change and better health outcomes in the future, then volunteering is a great way to help.”

“It is just so rewarding to know you are helping to make a difference, and [it] gives me the drive to ‘keep on keeping on’. Knowing that there are others out there also dedicating themselves to help make people’s lives—including mine—better every day is really amazing.”

Mater Research welcomes your support. Have you got a desire to help, or have a question you want answered? Volunteering with Mater Research is a great way to get started.