Fund-raiser Saturday to buy handcycle for paralyzed triathlete Laurie Allen

Laurie Allen stands in a standing frame as she works with Nicole Thompson at Project Walk, a spinal cord injury recovery facility, in August.  JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Laurie Allen stands in a standing frame as she works with Nicole Thompson at Project Walk, a spinal cord injury recovery facility, in August. JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

A fund-raiser this weekend will raise money to buy two custom handcycles so Austin triathlete Laurie Allen can return to racing.

Allen, 44, was soaking in a hot tub with friends last February when she got out to cool off. The side was icy, and with no railing behind her she fell 10 feet, fracturing a vertebrae and tearing ligaments in her neck.

She underwent neck surgery the morning after the fall. Initially she couldn’t move anything below her shoulders, but now she can move her arms and has sensation in her right leg and trunk.

Matt Allen lifts Laurie Allen into their vehicle after an appointment with her neurosurgeon Dr. Michael Webb at the NeuroTexas Institute in April. JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Matt Allen lifts Laurie Allen into their vehicle after an appointment with her neurosurgeon Dr. Michael Webb at the NeuroTexas Institute in April. JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

The accident has meant an abrupt change for Allen, who has finished about 75 triathlons, including nine Ironman distance events, plus a slew of ultra distance runs, cyclocross bike races and adventure races.

Despite the challenges, Allen radiates positivity. She’s back at work at a software company. She makes laps around the track at Anderson High School in her wheelchair and has taken a few tennis lessons.

Allen had another surgery last week, but already she’s thinking about returning to racing.

Proceeds from the Grill and Chill for Laurie Allen this Saturday will raise money to buy her two customized handcycles. The event is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Travis County Exposition Center, 7311 Decker Lane, outside the expo for the Ironman 70.3 Austin triathlon.

The menu will include hamburgers ($4), sausage wraps ($3), hot dogs ($2) and chips or drink ($1). A $50 donation buys the Laurie Combo – a meal with chips and a drink.

Those who can’t go to the expo can support Allen via a virtual cookout. The menu? A virtual hamburger for $100, a virtual sausage wrap for $50, a virtual hot dog for $25 or a virtual drink for $10. To donate go here.

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