Former Ipswich Grammar School teacher Alan Campbell with a former student of his Oscar Crisp who has made a short documentary film about his inspiring teacher.
Former Ipswich Grammar School teacher Alan Campbell with a former student of his Oscar Crisp who has made a short documentary film about his inspiring teacher. David Nielsen

Sipping it up to find a cure for spinal cord injury

BRASSALL resident and former Ipswich Grammar School teacher Alan Campbell knows that a spinal cord injury can happen to anyone, at any time.

On April 6 2015, Mr Campbell tripped and fell head first down the stairs at work, leaving him a quadriplegic.

The former teacher now receives 24/7 care and said among the many things that frustrated him about his injury, consuming everything through a straw was high on his list.

"Being a quadriplegic is so frustrating sometimes and I wish I could just move my fingers or get on the internet on a proper computer but I can't,” he said.

"The other thing is that every single day I have to use a straw to drink everything, even alcohol.

"This disability is debilitating and if there's a cure one day for spinal injuries it will be most the amazing thing ever.”

As part of the Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Week (5-11 September) the Perry Cross Spinal Research Foundation (PCSRF) is encouraging Aussies to join them as they launch their biggest annual fundraiser for 2017, SIP Week.

The national campaign aims to raise awareness for spinal cord injuries while giving the community a small insight into life as a quadriplegic, where every drink must be 'sipped' through a straw.

'Sippers' who sign up for the one-week challenge will raise funds for a cure for paralysis, with money raised to support research currently under way by a world-class team of scientists in South East Queensland.

The research is offering one of the most promising hopes for the 12,000 Australians currently living with paralysis.

The PCSRF has teamed up with Australia's Boost Juice and global social media superstars, Nik Mirkovic and Alex Tomic from HiSmile to launch the campaign, with over $10,000 worth of prizes to be won, including the world's most expensive straw with over one carat of diamonds.

"We're thrilled to be partnering with Boost Juice and HiSmile for the 2017 SIP Week campaign and can't wait to kick it off on September 5,” said C2 ventilated quadriplegic and PCSRF founder, Perry Cross.

"Every day in Australia, a life is changed forever through the devastation of paralysis and while SIP Week is all about raising awareness and funds for a cure, it's just as much about giving people a very small insight into life as a quadriplegic, where every single drink - hot or cold, even a beer or wine - must be sipped through a straw.

"This small task for some is a big one for others and by joining SIP Week, you're also saying to those living life in a chair that you're here for them. It's a chance for the community to show a united front and stand up for those who can't.”

In addition to raising funds, those who take on the SIP Week challenge are also encouraged to take to social media and ignite a juicy, #SIPSelfie frenzy.

Boost Juice Managing Director, Claire Lauber, said everyone at Boost was excited to be involved with the 2017 SIP Week campaign.

"We're really looking forward to SIP Week and as a company, take our hat off to Perry Cross and his foundation for their unshakeable belief and commitment in finding a cure for spinal cord injury.

"It's an exciting time for Australia with the possibility of a cure happening right here and we're thrilled to be involved with this year's campaign.

"A lot of fundraisers encourage you to run a marathon or tackle a big race - we love the concept behind SIP Week and the fact anyone at any age, can get involved. All they have to do is, sip.”

SIP Week is a challenge, but it's also a fun and light-hearted way for Aussies to show their support for those living with paralysis.

Boost Juice is offering a year's worth of free juices to the overall fundraising winner and to the best 'SIP Selfie' taken on social media, in addition to various discount vouchers to everyone who takes on the challenge

With social media expected to erupt with Sippers taking a #SIPSelfie over the week, the pioneers of one of the world's most successful teeth whitening brands and renowned digital entrepreneurs with over one million followers, have also thrown their support behind the cause.

"We're stoked to be on board with SIP Week and look forward to seeing the SIPSelfies swarming social media,” said HiSmile director, Nik Mirkovic.

"Both Alex and myself met with Perry earlier this year and are in awe of his genuine drive and passion. He was a similar age to us when his accident happened playing footy and he's a Gold Coast local just like us - so it makes you realise, a spinal cord injury can happen to anyone.

"We are pumped to be heading into Boost Juice to kick off SIP Week and have an array of HiSmile teeth whitening bundles for all of the winners. We'll also be judging the best SIPSelfie.”

The major SIP Week prize is a solid yellow gold, custom SIP Week straw, made by My Jewellery Shop. Valued at over $8,000, the stunning keepsake features 1.05 carats of diamonds (350 white diamonds) and is touted as the world's most expensive straw.

Mr Campbell said the event would be very beneficial to all people with a spinal injury.

"It will be good to see people having at least one or two sips of their alcohol through a straw and I can imagine it will look quite funny to see everyone doing it at the same time.”

For further information, to sign up to the SIP Week challenge or make a donation, visit the Perry Cross Spinal Research Foundation website.