Kiwis give a lot to help those in need

By Cherie Howie, Ben Hill

Phuket crash victim gifted second highest amount through Givealittle site last year.
Paul Lupi was involved in a serious scooter accident in Phuket, Thailand. Photo / Supplied
Paul Lupi was involved in a serious scooter accident in Phuket, Thailand. Photo / Supplied

AWellington man who fell into a coma after a scooter crash in Thailand has made a "miraculous" recovery, thanks in part to the generosity of New Zealanders.

Wellington business owner and former Marlborough Boys College head boy Paul "PJ" Lupi suffered serious head injuries after the crash in Phuket in July.

Read More:

Kiwi in coma gave his father a 'big hug'
More than $117,000 raised for Kiwi in coma
Money still pouring in for Kiwi in coma in Thailand

Stuck overseas without travel insurance, more than $173,000 was raised through crowd-funding website Givealittle to help move him to a better hospital in Bangkok and then home to New Zealand.

Phone and internet provider Spark owns the website through its Spark Foundation, which yesterday revealed more than 259,878 donations totalling more than $20 million were made last year.

Mr Lupi received the second-highest amount of donations for the year, behind the $370,387 raised to help the people of Nepal after the deadly earthquake in April.

Melanie Gardner's page to help raise funds for a life-changing operation in the United States for her daughter, Mila, received the third highest level of support. Donors promised just over $107,000 to help the little girl born with spastic quadriplegia cerebral palsy.

Mr Lupi's brother Joe said the help was "pretty overwhelming".

"It's really amazing, at what was a pretty emotional time for us all."

"The Givealittle platform allowed us to communicate with all our friends quickly and rally the troops.

"He's one of the lucky ones."

He said although most of the donations were from people who knew his brother, he was grateful too for the contributions from strangers.

"There were a lot of anonymous donations, and there were some from people who we didn't know.

"It gave us a platform to ask for help without causing too much stress for the family.

"It's the Kiwi way, Kiwis rally around each other, it's good to know there's still some of that around."

He said PJ was now out of a rehabilitation facility and was recovering at the family farm in Christchurch.

"He's really made a miraculous recovery, he's now at an independent level.

"He can walk and talk, and he remembers everyone. There will be long-term impairments - we don't know the full effects yet."

The money donated through Givealittle was spent on providing the best possible care for PJ and getting family members overseas.

"It was a major mission," said Joe. "My dad went over there, he never left his side, and my brother headed over there too."

Last year's total makes up half the amount of money donated to Givealittle causes since the website began eight years ago, and represents a massive 166 per cent increase on donations made the previous year.

Spark Foundation general manager Lynne Le Gros said she wasn't surprised by the total, but that shouldn't be mistaken for a lack of enthusiasm.

"I think it's awesome. That's all Kiwis helping other Kiwis in need."

The website "just works for people", Ms Le Gros said.

"It's the ability to emotionally connect with something that works for you. There's a lot of different types of need, from saving a beach to health to sporting potential and all of us are turned on, in a charitable sense, to different needs."

Thanks, NZ

• Total amount of donations to Givealittle pages in 2015: $20.34m

• Givealittle pages: 7190

• Individual pledges: 259,878

• Cause with most donations: Nepal earthquake fundraiser, $370,387

• Increase on 2014: up 166 per cent.

• Most generous month: May, when more than $2.49m was given.

• Most generous day: April 30, when $150,480 was given.

• Average donation: $78.27

• Largest single donation: $30,000

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2017, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf05 at 27 May 2017 22:31:41 Processing Time: 331ms