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Student fights for a personal cause

Oct 14th, 2014 | By | Category: Front Page Layout, Most Popular, News, Top Picture

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WELLINGTON student Andrew Weston wants to help stroke victims but needs to win a $10,000 university scholarship to do so.

He wants to help people like his father who have suffered from a stroke and says he would use the money to study medicine and research at Auckland University.

Weston, 19, is in the top 25 of the AMP people’s choice scholarship and on October 13 the five applicants with the most votes will go through to the next round.

The Weston family cannot afford to send Andrew to University and he is asking people to vote for him so he can further his education and discover new ways to help brain injury patients recover.

Andrew’s father, Colin suffered a severe stroke in January last year on a mountain biking holiday, losing movement in his arms and legs as well as the ability to talk.

Despite the struggle he and his family have endured over the last 21 months Andrew is determined to find more efficient ways to help stroke victims during rehabilitation.

“After all the hardship and difficulties, I’ve found a new determination to specialise in this area and help people who have suffered from a stroke,” Andrew said.

Colin, 54, was given a 50/50 chance of survival after his accident and despite the odds he has made a remarkable recovery.

Andrew said it would not have been possible without the rehabilitation work at home.

Through the scholarship Andrew and his family want to raise awareness on what families can do to help stroke victims recover rather than relying on the health care system.

“It’s tough but people have to understand there is so much they can do themselves,” Andrew’s mother, Fiona said.

“We want to provide a resource that informs people on what they can do themselves during the recovery process.”

Andrew had just turned 18 when the stroke happened and was due to start university three weeks later.

“When it happened I said ‘look, I won’t even bother going to uni, I’ll get a job and be on hand to help’,” Andrew said.

“Mum wasn’t having any of it, though, and she said you’re still going to university,” he said.

Colin was in hospital six months and Andrew said studying helped him get through it.

“It gave me something to focus on other than dad not being able to walk or talk,” he said.

Andrew completed his first year in health science, majoring in sport and exercise and achieved straight As.

“I decided after the first year that I wanted to take my education a step further.

“If I can get into some form of medical research then I’ll be able to make some waves for the cause we are pushing,” he said.

With his parents unable to work, they couldn’t afford to send him to university for another year.

Andrew currently works full time at Athletes Foot in central Wellington.

“I made the decision to work for the year and provide some money for the family as well as saving some for university,” Andrew said.

The Weston family has suffered financially since the stroke due to the thousands of dollars needed to fund Colin’s recovery, and has been forced to sell the family home in Khandallah.

“It’s hard to leave a community that has helped us so much but we have no choice,” Fiona said.

Despite all the support they have received, they have tried to cope without asking for help.

“We feel like we have done everything we possibly can to help ourselves without asking for anything,” Fiona said.

When Andrew made his submission for the People’s Choice scholarship, including a video documenting their struggle, he said it was the first time they had sought help.

“Asking people to vote for me was the first time we had asked for anything,” he said.

So far he said the response had been amazing.

“Initially friends were voting and sharing it round and then it just took off.

“I have been getting really lovely messages from complete strangers,” Andrew said.

The Weston family are grateful for the empathy that people have shown and feel they have achieved something already.

“For us that’s great because it means a complete stranger has seen our video and that’s one life we might save,” Fiona said.

“I feel as though we have created some awareness on what can happen to fit, young and healthy people as well as the things people can do to improve the outcomes should such a disaster occur,” Andrew said.

“The scholarship is just one step on our crusade to raise stroke awareness,” he said.

Colin Weston’s recovery continues to inspire Andrew to make a difference through medicine and research.

To vote for him visit https://www.doyourthing.co.nz/scholarships/amp-people-s-
choice-scholarship/
and follow the links.

 

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is is a Whitireia journalism student
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