Thou­sands raised for in­jured woman

The Napier Mail - - FRONT PAGE - LAURA DOONEY

Seven months on from the car crash that very nearly took her life, Suzi Mer­son is learn­ing to walk again.

‘‘I’ve got a great ad­mi­ra­tion for tod­dlers now,’’ she laughs. Mer­son had hoped to be walk­ing un­aided by spring, but is think­ing now it might be Christ­mas.

‘‘I thought I would put on ar­ti­fi­cial leg on and would just walk off into the sun­set, that was about 3 months ago.’’

Mer­son suf­fered hor­rific injuries when she was in­volved in a head on col­li­sion on Fe­bru­ary 3 this year – a dozen bro­ken bones, in­ter­nal injuries and a se­vere trauma that re­quired one leg to be am­pu­tated be­low the knee.

Mer­son’s community has ral­lied around her and on Wed­nes­day night last week, 220 peo­ple showed up to an art auc­tion in Have­lock North, called Framed For Suzi, and nearly $40,000 was raised.

The money will go to­wards help­ing Mer­son and her fam­ily as she con­tin­ues her re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion.

Artists from Hawke’s Bay and the rest of the coun­try, many of whom pic­ture-framer Mer­son had worked with, do­nated 40 pieces.

Speak­ing the day af­ter the auc­tion, Mer­son said see­ing so many peo­ple gath­ered for her made her feel ‘‘per­ma­nently a lit­tle bit bet­ter’’.

‘‘It was an amaz­ing night ... it was re­ally nice hav­ing peo­ple sup­port me, and come up and say­ing hello, even peo­ple I didn’t know.’’

Part of her en­joy­ment came from not think­ing the event was be­ing held for her, but rather the artists whose work was be­ing sold.

The or­gan­i­sa­tion of the auc­tion was lead by John Macpher­son, whose busi­ness had been next to Mer­son’s in Have­lock North, for years. ‘‘Ev­ery­one loves Suzi,’’ he said. The auc­tion ‘‘went off like a dream’’. It in­cluded works from well-known artists, as well as some young up-and-com­ers.

‘‘Suzi’s grand­chil­dren live in Aus­tralia, they’re just lit­tle tots, they did three lit­tle paint­ings, and they went for $2500, it was su­per cool.’’

Mer­son’s three adult chil­dren had also con­trib­uted pieces.

While the art made up most of the $36,000 to­tal, raf­fles, and the price of tick­ets, also con­trib­uted.

Macpher­son said Mer­son was the per­fect person to be a pic­ture framer, who had made a liv­ing out of fram­ing peo­ple’s trea­sures.

‘‘She doesn’t care if it’s a piece of fine art, or a grand­daugh­ter’s booties.’’

Not sur­pris­ingly, the crash al­tered Mer­son and her fam­ily’s life in a huge way.

The pic­ture framer had to sell her busi­ness, but the fam­ily still has a hand in it, with her daugh­ter Abbey and hus­band Shane manag­ing the shop.

Be­cause so many pieces were do­nated for the auc­tion, some would have to be sold online, Macpher­son said.

Peo­ple can also do­nate to Mer­son through a Givealit­tle page called Framed For Suzi.

The Have­lock North community has raised $36,000 for Suzi Mer­son, af­ter her hor­rific car crash. ‘‘It was an amaz­ing night ... it was re­ally nice hav­ing peo­ple sup­port me.’’

Suzi Mer­son

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