Fashion show to help raise funds for Amanda Lowry

By Kiri Gillespie

Tauranga's leading fashion houses have come together to put on a premier event to raise money for injured Bay woman Amanda Lowry.

Next month's fashion show was the brainchild of Heaven & Homes owner Julie Bourke and Augustine International designer and director Kelly Coe.

Everyone involved will be donating their time to help in the fundraising efforts for Ms Lowry, who broke her neck in a surfing accident last month.

Ms Lowry is expected to work through rehabilitation in Auckland for six to eight weeks with partner Gemma Holroyd, 6-week-old baby Ziggy and 3-year-old daughter Lola.

Ms Bourke told the Bay of Plenty Times Weekend the money raised would go directly to the Galz (Gemma, Amanda, Lola and Ziggy) Trust set up for the family.

"I've known them for many years. I wanted to do something and thought of a fashion show," Ms Bourke said.

Meanwhile, Ms Coe was considering holding another charity fashion show after a successful fundraiser for cancer toddler Chase Topperwien last year.

Through the Galz Trust Facebook page, the two got talking about the idea of a fundraising fashion show for Ms Lowry.

"I was like 'oh, hell yeah, let's do something'," Ms Bourke said. "It went from there to seven boutiques."

Local fashion houses Repetoire, High St Boutique, Evolution/Harper, Cherish Child, Square, and Footloose Bethlehem will join Heaven & Home and Augustine in the May 23 show.

"The community spirit in Tauranga is amazing ... nobody has said 'no'. It's been really touching, all these people saying 'Oh my God, yes', they'll be happy to get involved," Ms Bourke said.

The venue has been donated by Mike Farmer of Farmer Auto Villages.

The event will have 350 tickets and goodie bags, plus "posh frocks, high heels, photographers and photo booths, I'm very excited".

Ms Lowry said she was gobsmacked at Tauranga's support.

"It's like being love-bombed. I'm just blown away at their generosity and the way they have just opened their hearts on this journey.

"It's an interesting journey that I wouldn't wish on anyone, except for the Boston Bomber."

Ms Lowry is feeling a slight tingling sensation in her toes during her daily physio exercises.

"It's very pins and needlesy [sic]. It's not huge but it's something."

But Ms Lowry has accepted she might never walk again.

"There are still nights where I cry myself to sleep. Walking again might be five, six or 10 years down the track ... The moment I did it, [the accident] there was the reality, I knew I was done. Right now I'm figuring out the boundaries."

The aim was to get fit and healthy, to be in the best shape possible when she finally went home.

Ms Lowry said because she was unable to work and Ms Holroyd was on maternity leave with baby Ziggy and unlikely to return to work because she would be needed to care for her, any money raised meant the world.

Originally from Tauranga, Ms Coe said she wanted to give back to the local community where she opened her first store: "I was just in the process of doing another one like Chase but then this Trust popped up on my Facebook page."

Last year's fashion show raised $10,000 for Whakatane toddler Chase, who died in June. The money was given to the Dream Chaser Foundation, a charity set up in his name.

Tickets are expected to go on sale from the end of next week at Heaven and Augustine stores.

A personal message by Amanda Lowry :

"This message is a massive thank you for all the support and love that you all have shown me, Gemma, Lola and Ziggy. We are totally humbled and grateful for the incredible love, compassion and generosity of friends and strangers during this incredibly difficult time.

"I realised as I scanned this page that the photos tell a story. But only one side. The brave face. The face I need to show for my daughters ... where their momma isn't falling apart and grieving at the loss of her life, her physicality, her way of being and engaging in the world. I am broken I tell Lola. And it makes me sad. I tell her I am here in the spinal unit to get strong so I can come home. What she won't understand is that I am paralysed from my pounamu necklace down. I have no core (no stomach muscles) ... I breathe only with my diaphragm, as the intercostals are gone. I can't cough or sneeze ... I have no bladder or bowel control ... and most challenging of all, limited hand movement ... Every moment in this body takes effort. I would trade my legs for my hands in a breath.

"To understand the feeling ... It would be like you sitting on a Swiss ball and lifting your feet off the floor ... No centre, no balance. There is no instinct ... I have to relearn everything ... Other than exercising I spend hours each day putting pieces of Lego or sponge from one container to another ... trying to create new neural pathways and strengthen my hands. "I am angry, I am sad, I am broken that I am broken ... but I am alive, I am sharp, and I am here for my girls. I get to love them and see them grown up with Gemma at my side and wouldn't trade that for the world. Just know I'm gonna do EVERYTHING I can to shine."


- Bay of Plenty Times

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