Friday, April 20th, 2012
The Lions Clubs of the Canberra/Queanbeyan Region are seeking community support for their appeal to raise funds for Niki van Buuren, a burns survivor of the 2003 Canberra bushfires. Niki, a Canberra resident of Kaleen, has been chosen to represent Australia at the 2012 World Para Equestrian Driving Championships in Breda, Holland in August this year.

Niki’s story.

Niki worked with horses since the age of nine. At age 19 in 2003, while caring for her horse, she and her mother, Wendy became trapped in the Canberra bushfires. This firestorm blazed through Canberra on January 18, destroying over 500 homes and killing four people. Niki received third degree burns to 66%of her body which resulted in the loss of all her fingers and severely restricted movement in her arms. She spent 10 months in a Sydney hospital recovering from her injuries,

During her long recovery Niki was determined to continue riding as a para equestrian, and set herself the goal of competing at international level in dressage. She started riding again in 2004 at her local Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) centre at Pegasus. Through friends Niki has since discovered carriage driving and has become heavily involved in the sport. Under tuition of expert coach, Mr Max Pearce she has rapidly gained skills in the discipline, leading to her selection for the World Para Equestrian Driving Championships being held this August in Breda, Holland.

Because no funding is available from government sources, Niki is relying on sponsorships and funding appeals to raise $50,000 by mid June for her and her support team to compete in the six week campaign. Lions Youth Haven have taken up Niki’s cause by rallying the support of Lions Clubs in the Canberra region to give financial support and to start a public appeal for this remarkably determined young Canberra woman whose courage in performing at such a high level against adversity is an inspiration to all.

The appeal will be launched by Mr Frank Brown, the Chairman of LYH, at Westwood Farm on Friday 27th April 2012 at 10:30pm. Niki will provide a photo opportunity with her horse and carriage during the launch where light refreshments will be served.

Location of Westwood Farm: 244 Kambah Pool Road Kambah ACT 2902
Media Contact : Wieslaw Lichacz - Executive Officer Lions Youth Haven 0262315959 or 0404057492
Website: and ;Please RSVP to [email protected] for catering

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Lions Youth Haven Inc is a not-for-profit organisation owned and supported by the Lions Clubs in the Canberra and Queanbeyan region (District 201N2).
Lions Youth Haven (LYH) established in 1988 on 200 hectares of farm land close to Canberra providing support and training to homeless youth. The 2003 Canberra bush fires devastated farm infrastructure requiring extensive rebuilding. Over the last 3 years, LYH introduced new programs that included outdoor learning experiences for youth at risk from 4 different high schools. This has resulted in an 80% success rate of re-engagement to pursue further education. These Farm Skills programs have grown in popularity and is in high demand.
It provides a safe haven for young people in crisis which incorporates integrated programs that assist disadvantaged, homeless, long term unemployed young people and young people at-risk in our communities through the generous support of people in the fields of education, job preparedness, accommodation, environmental science and sustainable agriculture.
Lions Youth Haven also runs a commercial horse agistment operation for up to 65 horses in stables and private and shared paddocks. It ia also a registerd Red Angus Stud.
Wieslaw Lichacz
P: 0262315959
M: 0404057492





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