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After stroke and brain hemorrhage, Linda will compete in round the bays event

News release from Cigna Round the Bays
Auckland woman Linda Fraser is one of 20 Achilles International athletes from around the country travelling to Wellington to run in the Cigna Round the Bays event, thanks to a grant from the Cigna Foundation.

The US-based Cigna Foundation provides charitable grants to nonprofit organizations around the globe whose work enhances the health of individuals and families and the wellbeing of their communities.

Almost three years ago, Linda suffered a major stroke and brain hemorrhage. It was a very sudden event for Linda, and started when she felt a bad headache come on while at work. She put her head in her hands to rest it for a moment and next thing the world went black. When Linda woke from a two-week long coma in hospital to find herself surrounded by family from all around the world, she knew that something major had happened.

The stroke and brain hemorrhage resulted in paralysis on the left-hand side of Linda’s body. Linda had always been a motivated person, and she was not going to let this hold her back. “I was determined to get up and move, and this meant having to learn to use my body and to walk again,” says Linda. “It was a very emotional journey which started with two months of intense physio, but I grabbed onto this and gave it everything I had. By the time I left the rehabilitation centre, I was walking with a cane. The Stroke Foundation put me in touch with local services like a gym, pool and a personal trainer so that I could keep improving.”

Last year, Linda saw a news story about Achilles International New Zealand. Achilles supports Kiwis with disabilities to participate alongside able-bodied athletes in mainstream events like Cigna Round the Bays and helps them regain strength and confidence.

“It wasn’t until January that I got up the courage to go along to an Achilles training session, but it has been life-changing,” says Linda. “I admitted to Peter Loft (Chairman of Achilles) that I’d never run before and that I was lucky to be walking, but that I wanted to redefine myself in my recovery.”

Peter encouraged Linda to set a goal of going to Wellington to join a team of 81 Achilles athletes and guides running the 6.5km Cigna Round the Bays event on 22 February 2015. “I was a little nervous at first, but I felt the support and encouragement of the other Achilles members,” says Linda. “My mind and body are feeling better and more alert, and having gone from being so dependent on other people to having this new-found freedom from running is amazing.”

“I’d really encourage anyone else who has suffered a stroke or has any kind of disability to get in touch with Achilles,” adds Linda. “If you have someone to run or walk with and support you it makes things so much more enjoyable.

Everyone here is going through their own private journey of recovery, and it’s so uplifting to be able to share and have a laugh with other people. Running has given me a sense of the possibilities ahead of me. I tell myself, you can’t wait for the world to come to you; you gotta get up and run with it!”

Cigna Life Insurance New Zealand partners with Achilles and is the primary of sponsor of Cigna Round the Bays. “We’re excited to be on this journey with Achilles, it’s a great cause and the athletes have some really inspiring stories,” says Cigna New Zealand CEO Lance Walker. “Achilles is a great fit with our commitment to help New Zealanders improve their lives through health and wellbeing .

“The Cigna Foundation is committed to helping individuals everywhere achieve their best possible health,” says Cigna Foundation executive director David Figliuzzi. “As Linda Fraser’s story demonstrates, Achilles International is bringing that mission to life for the people they serve.”

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