Name: Jade Richards
What is your dream?
My dream is to secure a challenging career within Athletics and to pursue my ambition of participating in the World Para sports Championships, London 2017 and to become a paralympian. I would like to represent Australia at the next Paralympic Games in Tokyo and become a role model for young Aboriginal Athletes. I am a highly motivated Athlete. Prior to my accident I have always been an athletic person and have always been involved in Sports (athletics, swimming gymnastics and netball). I am now a bilateral below knee amputee and have been involved in Wheelchair Basketball. As I recovered from my accident and my wounds were healed I decided to follow into my true calling and started to pursue my athletic career. My Classification is a T43. I have tried to achieve by participating in competition running with WA Athletics. Although I am running in competition with Abled runners I am running against my own records. I run in my day legs and was 0.07 secs off the Australian record, the record was broken by an T44 (one legged amputee) who was running with a running blade. If I ran with blades I would have broken the record. I also train twice a week with my trainer and exercise at home. Whilst I pursue this dream I am also studying, next year I will commence my certificate IV in Visual Arts in 2017. Running with running blades can fulfill my dreams and with your help I may be able to achieve this. I can pursue my dream of running and hopefully become an inspiration for others to reach their goals. Thank you for this opportunity and I hope to become a sister who can reach my goals to coach and become recognized as an elite athlete.
Tell us a bit about you.
I am a young Aboriginal woman and a Bilateral Below Knee Amputee. It’s been 2 and half years after my accident and it has completely changed my life. I am now a bilateral amputee and I lost my legs below the knee when I was 16 years old, when I was hit by a train at McIver Station, Perth WA. The accident changed my life, forever but my amputations it doesn’t define me and I believed I could still strive to achieve the best as I can. I began my journey by becoming involved with the Wheelchair basketball team “Western Stars” for a brief time and became their rookie for the national games. I was then approached by the Red Dust Heelers a team who worked with Aboriginal people with disabilities in sport and did healing workshops for Aboriginal youth and Abled people. I decided this is where I wanted to be. I was also able to speak at the workshops. The Red Dust Heeler also played in the national NBWL. And for a time I was happy and recovering. Though my passion has always b to been run, I was very athletic before my accident and my younger self has always been competitive. I decided to follow my passion of running. I am now training with Mark Bannister of Athletics WA and have competed in the competitions at Athletics WA and broken the record for running in my day legs. I wish to pursue my athletic career and wish to obtain running blades. I feel I have the potential to achieve this with the blades and participate in the paralymics.
How have you demonstrated commitment?
Yes, I have been able to demonstrate by participating in training, competing in competitions and using social media and the media for some of my accomplishments. I am in the process of making a small documentary with a producer from NITV. I am still a member with the Red Dust Heelers though I am currently not playing basketball, I am still represent the Red Dust Heeler in another capacity as they are currently looking for new members who are involved in different areas of sport. I have been networking with many athletes (Nation wide). I have been involved Amp Camp (Sydney, this camp is for amputees and those with Limb difference) as a participate and have become a leader with the organisation. Becoming a leader at the camp I am able to empower new amputees to sport and discuss only things another amputee would know. As for my sporting career I have been involved with The Ossur Camp and this was an excellent opportunity for me to participate in sports with a trial run on blades. I have tried the Gofundme but have not been able to come up with the whole amount of $30,000. Each Blade costs about $15,000. My family will help me the funding by applying for scholarships, fundraising activities and grants. Most importantly I am training and will be participating in the WA Athletic and have attended the Talent Squad team workshops. Sometimes it is hard as my stumps are constantly changing, they shrink due to muscle loss and I have changed my day legs a couple of times. This can be quite stressful and can be annoying, though most of the time I deal with the pain and focus on my dream. Persistance, passion and drive challenges me but I just keep focused and with the support of my family and friends I know I can be the Kathy Freeman of the Paralympic.
What challenges do you face?
There are many challenges for anyone who becomes an amputee . I am still a recent amputee and some of the challenges I have had to face was acceptance, adjustment to a completely different lifestyle ( as I recovered most of my time in a wheelchair. This has given me another prospective how the disabled people live. I appreciate still being able to walk, though it can be hard as my limbs are changing and can rub on my stumps ( have you ever had a blister on your foot and feel the discomfort. I don’t have that opportunity of taking off my prosthetics so I persist with walking every day. Adjusting to everyday life can be challenging people constantly stare at me as you don’t see a double amputee every day. I guess I have grown accustom to it now. I have also experience Post Trauma Stress and it was’nt a happy time, I still have some bad days but as I have said my passions – sport, art, people and my dream have helped me overcome challenging times.
How will you use the money?
Having this grant money will enable me to accomplish a life long dream. Prior to my accident I have always been athletic and dreamed of running. My mother always said that I would be the next Kathy Freeman. At the moment I am applying for running blades from an overseas source called the Challenged athletic’s Foundation. There are also many candidates applying for this as this is a worldwide organisation. If I do not get the running blades from them, then they may be able to contribute funds for me to help towards my savings for running blades. If they do supply me with the running blades, I will need to be able finance the up keep the blades as the sockets will need to be replaced on a regular basis and have regular maintenance on them, my prosthetist will be able to do this.
How do you plan to give back?
As an Aboriginal person I would like to become a positive role model for my community and empower Aboriginal disabled youth to become involved with sport. In the past I have been able to share my experiences in workshops with the Red Dust Heelers as part of a healing program for youth who have also experienced trauma. The Red Dust Heelers is a Basketball team who do Basketball workshops nationally to Aboriginal communities, with a focus on healing. Typically for some Aboriginal youth, trauma has been experienced in many forms such as neglect, abuse – physical, sexual abuse and domestic violence. Some have experienced this from an early age. Though my trauma has come from an injury I have had help and support from others my family, (mentors Brad Ness and Kathleen O’Kelly) and friends. I have been able to somewhat adjust to my situation. Sport has been my saviour and helped me overcome some depression times. Having the running blades will be able to confirm my status of becoming an elite athlete as I have been offered in the past to become an ambassador for young Aboriginal disabled athletes with the Australian Paralympic committee. I want to become a role model through my running and encourage youth to be in sport or lead a healthy lifestyle. Being able to run competitively I am able to focus on my sport and become a role model. Please help me so that I can help others. I have also worked on Rail Safety with BHP as I would not want anyone to experience the same trauma of losing their limbs.
Profile to be updated shortly.