Just 12 weeks ago Woonona’s Michael Randall was a fit 46-year-old who loved nothing more than competing in mountain bike events.
Mr Randall did not smoke and had no health problems.
But within days he found himself in hospital with a large section of his skull removed.
He had suffered swelling of his brain after a series of strokes left him without the use of one arm and both legs and unable to speak.
The first stroke happened while he was competing in a mountain bike event at Wingello. The next day in hospital he suffered several severe strokes, which left him in intensive care and needing brain surgery.
Since then he and his wife have been overwhelmed by the generosity of people across Wollongong.
Just 2 years ago Mr Randall was made redundant and had only managed to find work 10 months ago.
The family was starting to get back on its feet financially when the strokes occurred and he did not have health insurance.
Mr Randall held a management position but is not expected to be able to do such work again.
A committee of friends and members of Woonona Presbyterian Community Church quickly formed in Woonona and has been meeting regularly to arrange whatever help they can.
And his wife Victoria’s hairdresser jumped to action after consoling her client and friend.
Sarah Tuckey, of Sarah Tuckey Hair, has since enlisted the support of Miss World Australia top 10 finalist Jesy Pinkerton and together they have organised a benefit night at the Portofino function centre on November 2 to help his family pay their mounting medical expenses and make mortgage repayments to save their home.
Mr Randall is making a slow recovery and can now say one word at a time.
He is now in Port Kembla Hospital, where he is undergoing intensive rehabilitation.
Mrs Tuckey was one of the first people Mrs Randall confided in and remains in constant contact.
‘‘Victoria rang me a day or two after Michael had the stroke to tell me what had happened and the following day I broke my leg,’’ she said.
‘‘I was sitting on the lounge at home...not being able to do anything. That is when I came up with this idea.’’
Mrs Randall is working full time and splitting the rest of her time between the hospital at Port Kembla and at home in Woonona with their two children, while also trying to manage the family expenses and mortgage repayments.
She had to learn how to do all the finances and get approvals and passwords for everything because her husband had done it all before.
Because he was so fit no-one expected anything to go wrong.
‘‘It just shows it can happen to anyone,’’ Mrs Randall said.
Mr Randall is expected to remain in hospital for at least 12 months but is now on the waiting list for a private rehabilitation hospital only minutes from home.
Mrs Randall said that would cut down so much travelling and make a big difference to her and their children Joel, 16, and Molly, 12, who would be able to spend more time with their dad.
Mrs Tuckey said 200 people had already registered for the Onyabike support for Mike Randall benefit night and Friday was the closing date for tickets, which could be purchased by direct deposit into the Randall Family Fund-raiser account number 486 286 992 – BSB: 112 879.
Guest names should then be emailed to randallfamily email@example.com.
‘‘The community response is just overwhelming,’’ Mrs Randall said.
‘‘Without it we would be really really stuck.’’