Crossing the Pond for a Cause
Friendly Wheels, Issue 61
Featuring Marrianne Rooprai and Andy Uttridge of The Rooprai Spinal Trust in Hertfordshire, UK and Amigo President Tim Drumhiller.
“My life as I knew it changed forever when I had my accident,” said Marrianne Rooprai of Hertfordshire, UK.
In June of 2004, Marrianne was a busy 27 year old working as a hospitality manager. However, her life was changed that month when she was involved in a car accident that left her with a broken neck, fighting for her life.
Shortly after, Marrianne and her family found out she would be paralyzed from the shoulders down for the rest of her life. Marrianne’s road to recovery has been (and continues to be) a long and challenging journey, but as her partner Andy Uttridge says, “The glass is very much ‘half full.'”
“Of course things were very hard in the beginning and I still have dark days,” Marrianne said, “but as a whole, I just look forward.” Her forward-thinking attitude led Marrianne and Andy to launch a non-profit organization called The Rooprai Spinal Trust in January of 2006.
RS Trust relies solely on volunteers, and their goal is to provide hope and support for people who are living with spinal cord injury, while fundraising to benefit spinal research. “We want to inspire people and show others that progress is possible. We always want RS Trust to remain a volunteer charity run by friends and family so people know the money we raise goes directly to help others,” Andy said.
Andy and Marrianne have personally visited others with spinal cord injuries to offer support and helpful information and resources. The organization also fundraises in many ways to benefit spinal research; including sponsorships, product auctions, events and benefit races.
One significant fundraiser began in 2012, when Andy participated in the London Marathon to raise money to benefit spinal research. This year, Tim Drumhiller, president of Amigo Mobility, has joined the RS Trust team.
“This will be my 19th full marathon, and my first on UK soil,” Tim said. Though he has been running for more than 20 years, this is the first race where Tim has fundraised for charity. “Through Amigo I have met many inspiring people who have overcome challenges. Marrianne’s circumstances inspired me to run this race to benefit RS Trust,” Tim said.
Andy participated in last year’s marathon, raising nearly £5,000 (approximately $7,500 USD) to benefit spinal research. “I don’t consider myself a runner by any means – I wouldn’t even say I enjoy it,” Andy said, “but last year the buzz of the event far outweighed the pain, so I’m back this year with seven friends, including Tim from Amigo.”
Though Tim is nearing his fundraising goal of £1,800 (roughly $2,730 USD), he is hoping to surpass the goal. “I appreciate all the support I’ve received so far, and I will reflect on the mission of RS Trust as I pound the pavement this April in London,” Tim said.
Marrianne appreciates all the support she has received, saying, “Whenever anyone does something to benefit RS Trust – whether it’s running a marathon or contributing funds – it gives me such a lift to know that I’m not facing this journey alone.”