Men Of League Experience Wheels For A Day
Article courtesy of ParaQuad NSW
4 November 2010
Spinal cord injury is sudden and unexpected. It can happen to anyone, anytime. Whether you’re driving a car, climbing a ladder, diving in the surf or playing your favourite sport, you’re always at risk of a spinal cord injury. Just ask Men of League Welfare Officer Velu Nuumaalii. His promising rugby league career was tragically cut short when a seemingly mild knock while reaching for the try line left him with an incomplete spinal cord injury and permanent quadriplegia.
That’s why the Men of League Foundation is supporting ParaQuad NSW in raising awareness of spinal cord injury by participating in the annual Wheels for a Day wheelchair challenge on Monday, 8th November.
This year a cast of former and current rugby league stars, led by South Sydney legend Mario Fenech, will take to the pavement at Martin Place in a wheelchair rugby match, as the Men of League Legends take on the five time national wheelchair rugby champion NSW Gladiators.
“ParaQuad NSW aims to raise awareness of the daily challenges faced by people who use wheelchairs. One of the main barriers that prevent wheelchair users from social inclusion is accessibility. Through Wheels for a Day we can educate the community that equal access is not a frill, but a basic human right, which encourages higher rates of social participation from members of our community,” ParaQuad NSW Chairman Wendy Potter said.
South Sydney legend and TV personality, Mario Fenech, will be leading the Men of League Legends as they step out of their comfort zone, trading in footy boots for wheelchairs custom made for the sport originally dubbed ‘Murder-ball’.
“Being involved with a charity like ParaQuad NSW makes me realise how fortunate I am not have the same mobility issues as wheelchair users,” said Fenech. “Taking part in Wheels for a Day highlights how we can make things better for people with spinal cord injuries, as well as making the community more aware of their daily challenges.”
For almost fifty years ParaQuad NSW has provided a support system that aims to meet the needs of people with a spinal cord injury and their families at every stage of life. The services are designed to help members to have the same opportunities as everyone else to participate in the community. ParaQuad’s free primary health, accommodation and in-home care services are a vital mechanism that supports people with a spinal cord injury to achieve their choices in life.
Men of League assist many people who have suffered spinal cord injuries as a result of everyday accidents. Whether it be car or motorbike accidents, freak on-field accidents playing rugby league, or falling from their roofs – like former Cronulla and Balmain Tigers conditioner Steve Craig.
The 70 year old Men of League member reflects on the devastating accident that happened in October 2009: “I was up on the roof cleaning the guttering and the roof just gave way. The possums had weakened it and I fell through it. I was in hospital eight and a half months and it has left me a paraplegic. I will be in a wheelchair for the rest of my life. I am very grateful for the manual wheelchair Men of League purchased that enables me to get around the house.”
“We welcome the Men of League Foundation to Wheels for a Day, and thank them for their support. We applaud Men of League for their continued support of people with a spinal cord injury,” Wendy Potter said. “Through collaboration we can achieve great things, and Wheels for a Day is certainly an example of how working together can be of greater benefit to the community.”
Wheels for a Day will launch Spinal Injuries Awareness Week (8 – 12 November) and responds to the large and growing population of people with a spinal cord injury in Australia. Over 10,000 people are currently living with a spinal cord injury, with nearly 400 new injuries reported each year.
Celebrating its fifth year, Wheels for a Day is a registered event of International Day of People with a Disability and the Don’t DISmyABILITY campaign, and is proudly supported by Wheelchair Sports NSW and the Men of League Foundation.
WHAT: ParaQuad NSW’s Wheels for a Day
WHEN: Monday, 8th November 2010
12.00 pm – 2.00 pm. Executive wheelchair basketball challenge to start at 12.15 pm, followed by the feature event – wheelchair rugby between the champion NSW Gladiators vs. the Mario Fenech led Men of League Legends
WHERE: Martin Place (Amphitheatre), Sydney
SPONSORS: Allianz Australia, Stacks / Goudkamp, NRMA Insurance & Walker Legal