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Yellowknifers unite to help paralyzed former resident

Residents will raise money this weekend to help a former Yellowknifer left paralyzed following a swimming accident in Cuba.

Napu Boychuk, 29, was born in Yellowknife and grew up in the city. Now a dance student at Ryerson University, he has been in a Cuban hospital since the accident in December.

Boychuk reportedly shattered part of his spinal cord when a strong current pulled him under the water. Subsequent surgery has helped him to regain some feeling in affected areas, but he still has barely any use of his limbs.

His sister, Tuutalik Boychuk, shared an update on Facebook suggesting Napu recently managed small movements in his left leg and right hand. She added her brother “continues to stay positive”.

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Online fundraisers have already seen more than $10,000 donated to the family’s cause.

Now, a group in Yellowknife is holding a ‘zumbathon’ on Saturday evening to cover more of the Boychuks’ medical costs.

Event details: Zumbathon at JH Sissons, Saturday from 6pm

“Napu’s sister and I were classmates until we graduated in 1994,” explained Cygni Brown, a physiotherapist at Stanton Hospital who is helping to organize the event.

“He still has a lot of difficulty with his lungs. In the accident he ingested a lot of sand and seawater. They’re waiting for his lungs to strengthen so he can start doing more intensive physiotherapy.

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“The zumbathon is basically a big zumba dance party. Ticket sales and proceeds from a silent auction go to the family.”

Zumba is a popular dance fitness program but Brown says you don’t have to be a dancer. “Just come out and share the energy of dance for an hour and a half,” she said. “It made sense to have a fundraiser for a dancer with dance.”

“Progress is slow, but there is progress,” wrote Tuutalik Boychuk on Facebook earlier in February.

“Napu continues to joke around with everyone. He is still smiling. He is still making me laugh.”

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