Beating the Odds: Paralyzed Haitian Earthquake Victim To Race in Paralympics Beating the Odds: Paralyzed Haitian Earthquake Victim To Race in Paralympics
The GOOD Life

Beating the Odds: Paralyzed Haitian Earthquake Victim To Race in Paralympics

by Rosie Spinks

September 1, 2012

Thus began a local campaign which morphed into an international charity. The success also compelled Gonzalez-Bunster—who describes her job at Goldman as “making rich people richer”—to quit her job at the depths of the financial crisis.

“People thought I was crazy. They said ‘You’re quitting your job—when everyone else is losing their jobs—to start a charity?’ But this was just more meaningful to me.”

Today, the Walkabout Foundation, a registered charity in both the US and UK, partners with established healthcare organizations like Partners in Health, Millennium Promise, and the Clinton Foundation, all of which operate on the ground in developing countries around the world. These links to local communities are essential because, as Gonzalez-Bunster explains, distributing wheelchairs in places like Rwanda, Lesotho, or Pakistan is not quite the same thing as sending boxes of medical gear or sacks of emergency food provisions.

“Sending a 40 foot container, getting it through customs, transporting it from the entry port to local villages, finding a local recipient, and then training healthcare professionals to adjust the wheelchairs to the needs of individuals is very complicated,” Bunster said. “We’re not sending one-size-fits all wheelchairs.”

Since the quake in Haiti, the Walkabout Foundation has also partnered with The Dream Foundation, which supported athletes like Gaisli to train and compete in London this year. Thanks to this partnership, this summer's Paralympic games will also be broadcast on Television National D'Haiti for the first time.

Gonzalez-Bunster is excited at the buzz around the nearly-sold out games. “I think what [Paralympians] are doing is more of a feat than what an regularly-abled person can do,” Bunster said. “I always make a point to say ‘a person with a disabilty’ rather than ‘disabled.’ It’s just one part of who they are, not the defining factor.”

She'll be rooting Gaisli on when he competes in two road cycling races next week.

Rosie Spinks More Info

In addition to GOOD, Rosie's work has appeared in the Guardian, Slate, Outside Magazine, Sierra Magazine, Marie Claire, Talking Points Memo and others. Born to British parents in LA, she now lives a one bag life as a digital nomad.
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Beating the Odds: Paralyzed Haitian Earthquake Victim To Race in Paralympics