Everyone has an idol when growing up, I was no different…There were a few people on this list but one stood out, that person was my brother Phil. There was something with the way that he conducted himself in training and competition that was inspiring! There was never an excuse.
I must have been around ten maybe even younger when Phil would invite me down the paddock with a football under one arm. We would kick and pass all the way down to a stretch of dirt where we would do some sprint training, He would handicap me so that he had something to chase and I would do my best to stay in front. Once we were done we would grab the footy and head home. This is probably what ignited my competiveness and the realisation that if you want to achieve something you have to be willing to work for it.
On the 10th of July 2002 he became more than an Idol of mine, he became a life savour. The day that I lost my leg could have ended very differently if not for him and my family. When faced with a difficult situation their decisions and actions ensured that I am still here. I will give you an idea of this situation. The family farm is located 35km from the closest town, no moblie phone service, roads that
are not clearly named which makes it a nightmare when trying to tell emergency support where you are. So if an accident was to happen in our area the odds aren’t really in your favour. So when my leg was severed down a paddock 2km form our house, there was always going to be a battle to survive.
I remember regaining consciousness on the ground, looking down to discover that the lower part of my leg was no longer attached and realising that I was in a bit of trouble, instinctively I got up and hopped to the ute, where Phil, 16 at the time, drove the fastest trip back to the house I had ever experienced, the decision was made by mum and dad not to call the ambulance and wait, but begin the trip and meet them on the way. Dad wrapped a belt around my leg and Phil grabbed my leg in attempt to slow the bleeding. Dad was faced with a situation that would have had to do one of the hardest things that I could imagine, Drive with his 12 year old son in agony in the back seat knowing that time was short.
Somehow he was able to compose himself and keep the car on the road. We had driven around 25km before we met the ambulance, I can only guess times but it would have been around 35 minutes since the accident and I was now in the care of trained professionals, although I was still not out of trouble, Temora hospital is not equipped in severe cases of trauma, so it was vital to obtain external support and that came when Snowy Hydro south care were tasked to stabilise and airlift me to Canberra where I would have more chances of survival.
Over the following 3.5 weeks I underwent around 12 operations where the doctors had to amputate my leg higher, then put me back together. Being an amputee is something that I had to come to terms with, But I was soon to realise the amazing support network that I had always had around me but never appreciated. This support not only came from my family who were amazing but from the entire district. The support that they gave Mum, Dad, brother and sisters, enabled them to keep me in good spirits and get me back home as fast as possible.
Today marks the tenth anniversary since I lost my leg, It is one of mixed emotions, and although the accident took away some of my hopes and dreams, it has enabled me to be a part of something amazing, Three water-ski world championships and now the biggest sporting event for athletes with disability, the London Paralympics. So I think today should be a celebration of what I have rather than what I have lost, which at the end of the day was only a leg!
Phil is still someone that I idolise, but this day made him more than an idol, he became someone that I owe my life to. The word hero gets thrown around regularly; to me my family are my heroes, without them I may not be alive. I am grateful that I have such wonderful people in my life!