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ibrahim-hamadtou

Ibrahim Hamadtou displaying his remarkable skill and tenacity

One of the more remarkable stories from the Rio Paralympics is Egyptian table tennis player, Ibrahim Hamadtou.

At the age of 10, Ibrahim lost both of his arms in a train accident, so you would think that table tennis is an odd choice of sport.

But this extraordinary man was not to be daunted, holding the paddle with his teeth and serving by throwing the ball into the air with his toes.

Yes, you read that right.

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Deng Thiak Adut

Deng Thiak Adut, from child soldier to criminal lawyer, an inspirational Australian

Today is Australia Day, which is a wonderful opportunity for a proud Australian like myself to reflect on what it means to be living in such a great country.

As a passionate advocate for refugees and asylum seekers, I have the privilege of helping people from every corner of the world find meaningful work and have had many clients from South Sudan, so when my wife showed me the story of Deng Thiak Adut, I knew that it was a wonderful example of a great Australian to share with you today.

Deng was born in the nation of South Sudan and at the age of 6, he was abducted from his family’s farm to fight for the People’s Liberation Army.  He fought with them as a child soldier for many years, saw atrocities that no child should ever see and eventually was injured in combat after being shot in the back at the age of 12.

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Matt Dellavedova

Matt Dellavedova celebrating a win with Lebron James in the 2015 NBA Finals

I love basketball and seeing Australian athletes shine on the big stage, so to see Andrew Bogut and Matt Dellavedova starting for the two NBA Finalists, the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers.

Andrew Bogut was the first pick in his draft year and he has been in the league for many years, so it’s not such a surprise to see him there, but Matt Dellavedova is another story.

So what’s so inspiring about him? Read the rest of this entry »

Live-with-hope-Have-aNeale Daniher was a terrific footballer.  A champion for the Essendon Football Club, his career was cut short by injuries, but his persistence and courage was a trademark.

He was a highly motivating coach.  His fiery messages as coach of the Melbourne Football Club gave him the nickname, “The Reverend” and his players went to battle for him every week.

And away from football, Neale is highly regarded for his affable nature, warm smile, fierce loyalty to family and friends and sense of humour.

Tragically, last year he was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease (also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease) an insidious illness for which there is no cure and no treatment.

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Glenn Cunningham

Glenn Cunningham, the Kansas Flyer

One of the books that I’m reading at the moment is Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken, the story of Louie Zamperoni that has recently been made into a movie.  Whilst his story is inspirational enough, Laura’a done a great job of writing about him, so this post is about one of the guys who inspired Zamperoni, Glenn Cunningham.

At the age of 8, Cunningham’s legs were badly burned in a school fire that killed his older brother, Floyd.

The doctor’s recommended that Glenn’s legs be amputated, but he protested to his parents and he kept them.  However, his injuries were so bad that doctors said that he wouldn’t ever be able to walk normally again.

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Rosie Batty Australian of the Year

2015 Australian of the Year, Rosie Batty

About a year ago, Rosie Batty was trying to live a normal life with her 11 year old son, Luke, when her former partner and Luke’s father murdered her boy one evening after cricket practice in Tyabb, no more than 20 minutes from my house.

It was an unimaginable crime that immediately thrust Rosie into the public spotlight as she grieved the loss of her son and tried to make sense of such a senseless situation.

This remarkable woman has handled her tragic circumstances with grace and has become an extraordinary ambassador to bring awareness to, and hopefully resolve, our national crisis of domestic violence.

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Dr Munjed Al MuderisIn October 1999, Dr Munjed Al Muderis was a talented young surgeon working at the Saddam Hussein Medical Centre in Baghdad when the military broke in with busloads of army deserters to have their ears amputated by the surgeons.

The head of surgery refused to take part in such a barbaric act and was promptly taken outside and shot.  In all of the confusion, Dr Muderis managed to hide in a cubicle in the women’s toilets.

After the carnage was over, Dr Muderis knew that he would be a wanted man and couldn’t return to his home, so he found a way to escape the country and a few weeks later he found himself on a leaky boat with 150 other asylum seekers making his way towards the shores of Australia.

He ended up in one of Australia’s detention centres that are used to process asylum seekers in remote Western Australia.  He was assigned a number and, like everyone else in these facilities, treated inhumanely while his application was processed.  A year later he was finally granted asylum and given the freedom to live and work in Australia.

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robin williamsThe passing of comedian Robin Williams in the past couple of days is an undoubted tragedy.

That he did it by his own hand makes it even sadder.

He was a truly remarkable man who made us all laugh.

Sometimes, he made us laugh and think at the same time, a brilliant combination.

We’ve seen the movies and heard the quotes, but it’s the story of his friendship with Christopher Reeve says a lot about this brilliant and kind-hearted man.

They had been friends since they roomed together at the prestigious Julliard’s school of drama.

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One of my new heroes, the Forest Man, Jadav Payeng

One of my new heroes, the Forest Man, Jadav Payeng

In the North East of India, lies the largest inland island in the world, Majuli Island, which is home to over 150,000 people.

Mainly due to significant deforestation, the annual monsoon floods have eroded away much of the island, causing massive damage to the area.

Starting as a 16 year old in 1979, Jadav Payeng, set about reversing this issue and started to plant seeds along the sandy, barren coast of the island.

Over the next 30 years, Jadav planted 1,360 acres of trees, creating a marvellous forest larger than New York’s Central Park!

What caused him to take such massive action?

In his own words, “The snakes died in the heat, without any tree cover.  I sat down and wept over their lifeless forms.  It was carnage.  I alerted the forest department and asked them if they could grow trees there. They said nothing would grow there. Instead, they asked me to try growing bamboo. It was painful, but I did it.  There was nobody to help me.  Nobody was interested.”

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The legendary Tommy Hafey, still rocking a t-shirt in his late 70's

The legendary Tommy Hafey, still rocking a t-shirt in his late 70’s

The Richmond Football Club and AFL community lost a legend this week with the sad passing of the seemingly indestructible Tommy Hafey.

“T-shirt” Tommy as he was affectionately known was a remarkably successful coach who was renowned for not only creating better sporting teams, but for positively influencing people on and off the field.

As a coach, he took an interest in every player on his list, from the superstars to the fresh-faced rookies and found a way to inspire them to reach their full potential as athletes and citizens.

He was an amazing leader and one of his greatest legacies is that 18 of his ex-players went on to become senior coaches in their own right.

His personal creed was Desire plus Dedication plus Discipline plus Determination equals your Destination” and he lived this out for his entire life.

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