Lara on slow road to recovery after freak accident
KENSINGTON Grove toddler Lara Whitaker was a sassy, energetic and empathetic two-year-old girl before a freak accident at Redcliffe Paceway had her hospitalised.
The toddler was in the arms of her father Gary Whitaker, watching the harness racing when they were struck by the mobile barrier gate, which didn't close.
Since the incident, Lara has spent more than a fortnight in the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit at Queensland Children's Hospital - unable to talk or move.
But on Wednesday, she was moved out of the PICU and into the children's ward.
The move was a promising step in the right direction for her mother Joedy Whitaker.
She said the move gave her hope for Lara's full recovery.
"She's progressing quite well, we haven't tried sitting up and standing, but she knows who you are," Mrs Whitaker said.
As part of her recovery Lara will begin rehabilitation and during the process doctors will get more of an understanding of the extent of her injuries and whether she will fully recover.
Lara's rehabilitation is the sole focus of her family.
"All I'm thinking about is her and getting her back to as close as possible to what she was," Mrs Whitaker said.
"She was very full of life, liked to dance with her animals, very sassy and empathetic - she was the first to make sure everyone else was okay."
In a turn of the tables, people from across the country and the world are now making sure Lara is okay.
Prominent harness racer Todd McCarthy started a GoFundMe page on March 25, which has raised more than $80,000.
Mrs Whitaker said her family were blown away by the support, which had come from as far as America.
Both Mr and Mrs Whitaker have a long history in the harness racing industry, spanning across many generations.
Mr Whitaker works in the harness racing industry and has driven since he was a teen.
Friends of the family have also created the Whitaker Family Appeal to collect financial offers, donations and other services on their behalf.
Mrs Whitaker said all acts of kindness would go towards making life easier for Lara.
She just wanted to see her happy toddler back at home jumping on the trampoline and playing with the dogs and three chickens.
Mr Whitaker also sustained a large laceration to his head, which caused him to become unconscious after the accident.
Lara's 11-month-old brother Josh sustained a fractured skill in addition to light bruising on the brain, and Mrs Whitaker escaped with minor bruising.
An investigation into the incident is ongoing.
You can donate to the GoFundMe page here.