January 2011 hopefully for a young local cyclist that has only been on the bike just on 12 months will be a time of great accomplishment and a release of an inner pain of a serious accident 2 years earlier. Warwick McGhee remembers only too well Christmas of 2008 when taking his sister Rebecca for a ride on his motorbike became a nightmare. Warwick and Rebecca were involved in an accident that resulted in the amputation of Rebecca’s right leg. Rebecca and husband Adrian had planned a short term visit to Australia from their travel base of London. Rebecca’s recovery has required both her and Adrian to put aside their passions and dreams of seeing the world to battle with a much modified life style in Melbourne.
The journey is far from over but has certainly impacted Warwick in many ways who is studying first year accounting at the La Trobe University at Bendigo. Cycling is relatively new to Warwick who is devouring the kilometres per week trying to establish his base fitness and gain as much insight into the requirements to be able to endure back to back days of cycling. January would not necessarily be the most likely month to be riding across the Nullarbor Plains to Perth but this is the only available time for Warwick to take time out of his studies to attempt the feat.
Warwick has been quite sensible in recognising his limitations and has set quite realistic daily targets over a 30 day period averaging around 150klms per day for the total distance of 3336 klms. Warwick has the support of his brother, Chris, and partner, Kira, in being the on road crew and camping companions on the side of the road for many nights.
Watching Rebecca has been a painful experience of the difficulties yet has opened Warwick’s eyes to the wonderful support of Limbs 4 Life a not for profit – non government organisation developed to provide information, support and access to resources for people in the Australian community effected by limb loss. Their Mission is – ‘To empower amputees with information, support and promote an inclusive community’. Amputation of limbs affects 250,000 Australians that suffer limb loss from causes such as diabetes, vascular disease, cancer, trauma, infections and congenital differences. Losing a limb can be a challenging way of life for each individual however, receiving assistance from an organisation who understands can help to ease the burden.
Limbs 4 Life offers a range of programs and services that assist amputees, their families, care givers and health care professionals: Peer Support Program was established to provide new amputees and their families with access to trained volunteers. The program matches new amputees, or those about to lose a limb, with a volunteer who has experienced a similar amputation. Speaking with a peer support volunteer can play an important part in a new amputee’s recovery and rehabilitation. Peer support volunteers offer encouragement, information and guidance. They can also help to alleviate feelings of isolation and most importantly, they provide an ear to listen. Whether the cause of limb loss was diabetes, vascular disease, cancer, trauma or infection, it can be comforting to discuss their concerns with someone that has been in a similar situation.
The program is based on a model of mentoring that has been used for a number of years, for many different health and wellbeing issues. It is used to complement the services which medical professionals provide. Warwick is hoping to be raising not only awareness of the plight of amputees but raising much needed fund to keep the program viable in supports people like his sister Rebecca.
Not only is Warwick new to cycling and like a sponge that soaks up information to help him on the bike but has had little to no experience in embarking on fund raising. Warwick is currently on the beat seeking out active supporters and will be approaching many community groups such as Rotary Clubs with the view of drawing on their vast experience of making a difference and engaging a community. Warwick has joined the regular Saturday mornings despite his shyness is starting to connection with those he shares the road with. Warwick would be keen to make contact with the general public who can support his target of raising not just awareness but funds to keep the programs the Life 4 Limbs undertaken that has given his sister renewed hope of a quality of life.
Look out for Warwick on his green and black giant road bike or be open to his knocking on your business front door.