SHE'S an inspiration with a heart of gold whose charity has helped more than 100 athletes with disabilities achieve their goals, but now Marayke Jonkers needs our help.
Left a paraplegic by a car accident when she was a baby, the three-time Paralympian medal winner is now battling with the onset of thoracic outlet syndrome, a condition that causes such debilitating muscle pain and nausea it can leave her bed-ridden for weeks.
The condition means she can no longer lift her arms to drive a vehicle or push her wheelchair.
The motorised chair she now has to use weighs 100kg, making it impossible to wrangle it into her much-loved "Sylvia" even if she could lift her arms to steer her.
The accomplished motivational speaker who brings the message "everything is possible" to board rooms and classrooms has launched a fundraising campaign, backed by some of the region's finest athletes, to raise the $170,000 to $200,000 required to buy a modified vehicle.
"I don't want to be on a pension, I want to work," the double degrees holder in journalism and marketing said. "People see me about and say I'm looking well and happy. I don't let on about my problem. "They don't see the three days in bed I need to spend to be able to go out and then three weeks in bed afterwards recovering.
"To the outside world it looks like I haven't changed."
The reality is that the thoracic outlet syndrome which is caused by a crushing of nerves and arteries between her first rib and collar bone has been devastating.
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That would only be possible with a vehicle that has a ramp and joystick controls.
The cost is the killer.
Olympic swimmers Lisa Kenny, Melanie Schlanger and the Campbell sisters, Bronte and Cate, have contributed their services towards special experience packages that can be bought by people wanting to contribute.
Close friend and former swim coach Deb Jones is driving the "Make Marayke Mobile" campaign.
"Marayke has done so much for community, including starting a charity which has helped over 100 Queensland athletes with disabilities not to mention sporting achievements, and she wants to continue to do so she just needs a car so she can continue her amazing work," Deb said.
To help, go to Marayke's Car Fundraiser page.
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