The family of an Australian victim of the London Bridge terror attacks has raised more than $120,000 on a cycle ride to Paris for a foundation in her memory.
Sara Zelenak, 21, was tragically killed in the London Bridge terror attack when she slipped in high heels while trying to run from the terrorists. At the time, she was 27 days away from meeting her family in Paris for a holiday and would sign off text messages with the saying, “meet you in Paris”.
When her life was tragically cut short, a London police officer assigned to support the family suggested they head to the Eiffel Tower to meet her there “in spirit”, Sara’s father Mark Wallace told news.com.au.
In 2017, her parents Mark and Julie Wallace rode with four others including members of the Metropolitan police in a “very emotional trip” that helped them process the tragedy. They are now half way through a second annual journey, fundraising for Sarz Sanctuary, a foundation they hope will help others deal with traumatic shocks in their lives.
Speaking on day four of the ride, Mark Wallace told news.com.au they wanted to give back to the Londoners that had supported them in the aftermath of the event. This time, 40 people have joined them on the road including journalist Holly Jones, who rushed to the aid of victims on the night of the attacks, as well as family friends and an ex-boyfriend of Sara’s.
“We’ve come to a foreign country under the most horrific of circumstances,” he said. “We needed to give back to the people.”
The couple have been in London since the inquest into the terror attacks began, where the families of victims have heard tragic details of their final moments and been able to support one another through it.
Mr Wallace said the decision to establish Sarz Sanctuary was born out of the shock the traumatic death led to for the family and to address the fact that different people grieve in different ways.
“It’s an absolute sh*t club to be in but it’s a bond that’s very strong,” he said about their relationships with loved ones of other victims of the attack. “You don’t even need to speak words. Christine Delcros [partner of French victim Xavier Thomas] only speaks French but we’ve got such a strong bond.”
The sanctuary is designed to support families suffering from sudden trauma and plans to offer personalised treatments in five day program’s that encompass a range of activities from psychologists to reiki and yoga. Mr Wallace said up to 20 per cent of people can suffer from “prolonged grief disorder” following traumatic events that can lead to family breakdowns and the aim is to ensure people are able to help get their lives back on track.
“It’s a great way I can use Sara’s name every day and talk about Sara as a person,” he said. She’s always at the forefront and I get to talk about her. For me, emotionally I feel like she is with us. She’s definitely a strong part of the event.”
Originally published as ‘Meet you in Paris’: Sara’s moving legacy