"Silver lining for Anne-Marie" in the Manly Daily
Date Posted:11 April 2017
Paralogic founder, Anne-Marie has been featured in the Manly Daily.
Wheelchair-bound woman says disability led her to starting successful business and meeting husband
A NORTHERN beaches woman confined to a wheelchair after a motorbike accident says she probably wouldn’t be so successful if it wasn’t for her disability.
Anne-Marie Howarth, 43, said her spinal cord was “squashed” when she took a corner too fast and hit a guardrail while riding in the Blue Mountains in 2005.
She immediately knew she was paralysed because she could not move her legs.
The crash left her with incomplete paraplegia. She has no feeling on her left side from the chest down and only a little on her right.
Although she can walk slowly with crutches, she spends 99 per cent of her life in a wheelchair.
Despite the obvious disadvantages of her disability, Ms Howarth said there had been many positives and it had led to her starting a successful business, Paralogic, meeting and marrying her husband, Chris Woods, 50, and completing a 5km ocean charity swim this year.
“Before the accident I was working for the department of housing in the IT department,” she said.
“Like many who break their back I was left with no bladder or bowel control and needed to pee through a catheter, but catheters are expensive, so I started importing cheaper ones.
“Now I employ three people and I have thousands of customers in Australia. The business is very successful.”
After the accident Ms Howarth met her able-bodied husband during an ocean swim event in Fiji seven years ago. They married in the backyard of their home on New Year’s Eve.
This year she matched her pre-accident 5km ocean swim distance but this time she was only able to use her arms to propel her through the water, with her legs just “dead weights”. Her friend Aaron Richardson carried her up the beach to the finish line.
“The spinal injury has obviously affected my life,” said Ms Howarth, who raised $12,000 for SpinalCure by completing the 5km race.
“There’ve been pros and cons, but it’s led to me meeting my husband, starting a business and living in a gorgeous house in Frenchs Forest.”
She still has hopes scientists will find a cure for her condition. She said she would love to go bushwalking again.
Ms Howarth is supporting the Big Day Off, when businesses raffle off a paid day of leave to employees, with proceeds going to Spinal Cord Injuries Australia and SpinalCure Australia.
The Big Day Off initiative runs until June 30, with winners from each registered business being drawn electronically on July 3.
To register a business or nominate your workplace, go to bigdayoff.org.au.