Arts community rallies behind injured cyclist

Windsor artists are raising money for musician Tara Watts, who was severely injured during a cycling accident last week.

GoFundMe campaign aims to raise $5,000 to help musician recover from concussion and brain bleed

Carla Klingle gets emotional when thinking about her friend Tarra Watts, who was severely injured in a cycling accident last week. (Laura DaSilva)

Issues of cycling safety and financially strapped artists have taken centre stage in Windsor after musician Tara Watts suffered a concussion during a severe cycling crash last week.

Doctors told Watts to take the next six weeks off as she recovers from her injuries, which include a brain bleed and severe road rash.

(Tara Watts/Facebook)

That kind of hiatus from performing and tending bar can financially cripple an artist, which is why friends decided to try and raise $5,000 to help Watts through this rough patch.

Veronica Samek helped start the fundraising. She lives next door to Watts and realizes the musician will miss out on a steady line-up of gigs over the next couple of months.

"There's not an insurance plan that helps young performers," Samek told CBC News. "I've been in a car accident myself so I know what that can do to you."

Struggling artists

Maciejka Gorzelnik had dinner with Samek this week when the two came up with the idea for a GoFundMe campaign.

Gorzelnik is a photographer, so she understands how artists lack the luxury of taking time off for just about any reason. She wasn't surprised when she learned Watts planned to get back to performing right away. 

"She wanted to get back into everything as soon as possible and we really wanted to give her that time to be able to recover properly without having that stress and worry," Gorzelnik said.

The Supporting Tara Watts Ride campaign started Monday and already has raised about half the $5,000 goal.

"It's overwhelming to see how many people have donated," Samek said.

Cycling safety

Watts pleaded with the community to wear their helmets after the crash. Not one to wear a bike helmet, the musician regrets not being safer while on her bike.

"I've learned the hard way that it's worth it. I'm lucky to be alive," she said. "I'm lucky to be walking and talking today. So, I think the wear and tear on your hair is worth it."

Her message has been resonating with friends and the community. Like Watts, Gorzelnik rarely wore a helmet when cycling.

"That's the most important thing that can come out of this," she told CBC News. "I don't really wear a helmet, I'll be the first to admit it. That's going to change. I don't ever want to be in that situation Tara's in right now."

Carla Klingle has known Watts for years. She too went out immediately and bought a helmet after hearing about the crash.

"It hit home, it was upsetting," she said, talking about Watts as tears welled up in her eyes. "She's just a great gal."