John Catania

Sporting Wheelies and Disabled Association has been an integral part of my life since childhood. I started out in the “Spokes” Program at the age of six, and immediately felt an amazing connection with other children in the program, and also with the delightfully exuberant coordinator, Tim Draper; I always felt encouraged and supported to achieve.

Sporting Wheelies facilitates so many opportunities for athletes to achieve at various levels: club, national and international. While I do not play competitive sports, I have always felt just as much a part of the fabric of the Association as Paralympians: many of whom train at the Sporting Wheelies gym alongside me several days a week. Especially in my adult years, the gym has transformed my life. Not only in a physical sense (along with a sensible eating program and an exercise program devised by the very knowledgeable gymstaff, I lost 17 kilograms, and have maintained my weight) but also socially.

As cliché as it sounds, the Sporting Wheelies gym is all about meaningful friendships and connections. Over ten years, the people I have met - with a range of disabilities and each with incredible personalities - have given me greater personal empathy, patience and drive. This extends to my connection to the staff as well, who provide a friendly, jovial atmosphere, while always keeping us all focussed on our goals.

Without Sporting Wheelies and Disabled Association, so many people with disabilities would lack a critical space for social connection, as well as the motivation and support to achieve their personal fitness goals and sporting aspirations. To have a strong focus in life and the support, encouragement and motivation of like-minded friends is something that any person deserves in order to lead a happy life. I know that Sporting Wheelies and Disabled Association will remain an essential part of my physical, social and emotional development throughout my entire life.

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