Lais Souza was, at one time, a competitive gymnast for Brazil and an Olympic-level freestyle skier. After a training accident and a brutal recovery, Souza is now an uninsured quadriplegic who needs financial help. "The Olympic Committee is transferring the responsibility for us. Brazil invests billions in Cup stadiums , and billions more for the Olympics in Rio in 2016 , and leaves a young quadriplegic depending on [others] on the internet," Andre Forastieri writes in an op-ed for Brazil's R7 news agency.
Souza, a two-time Olympic gymnast, was injured on January 27 while training in Utah for the Sochi Olympics. The freestyle skier hit a tree and suffered a severe spinal fracture that left her fighting for her life and ultimately unable to move her arms and legs. Since then she's been transferred to a Miami hospital where she's learning English. And that's where the help from the Brazilian Olympic Committee stops. "The insurance paid for the operation and treatment. But it will not pay anything more. Life insurance or disability is contracted by the Brazilian Olympic Committee and the Brazilian Sports Confederation covers only accidents that happen during the competition and not during training," Forastieri explains.
Souza suffered her injury in Utah, not Sochi. And now has to figure out how to come up with the funds that will help pay for medical care the rest of her life.
Even though Souza is Brazilian, her story resonates here in the U.S. where bitter political bickering over health insurance is a daily occurrence; and where we debate whether or not our universities are taking advantage of their athletes. And Souza's story closely resembles Canadian skier Sarah Burke, who died after a training accident in Park City, Utah in 2012. Like Souza, Burke did not have the proper insurance, and her family was left to pick up the medical bills. Good samaritans chipped in to give Burke's family more than $300,000 to help offset the costs.
According to Brazil's Estadao newspaper, Souza now needs money for things like her electric wheelchair, which actually belongs to the hospital treating her, and a tablet that will allow her to communicate. The Brazilian Olympic Committee won't cover those costs. The paper explains that around $32,000 have been raised through Lais's fundraising campaign.
What's also pretty awesome is that Souza is getting help and attention from various bitcoin and crypto-currency communities around the world. People want to help. Official wallets have been set up for Souza, Bitcoin News explains:
Headed by Alex Ferreira, a well known community member since 2011, the Brazilian Bitcoin community has also decided joining the fundraising campaign to help Lais.
A new wallet was created for the campaign:
While the donations are impressive, Souza needs all the help she can get. According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center at the University of Alamaba-Birmingham, sustaining an injury like Souza's at her age could cost up to $4 million during her lifetime if she were living in the United States. That doesn't include the money she'd be making before her injury.
There is an official fund set up for Souza here:
Laís da Silva Souza
Bradesco (the Bank)
Agência/ Code: 0548-7