Wes’ story: International Wheelchair Day

March 1st, 2022

Wes and his adopted cat pal Minnie – she loves to come along on his daily adventures!

Never stop believing in yourselfwheel outside the box and challenge yourself.”

Today we join with ‘Wheelchair Wes’ to celebrate International Wheelchair Day. It’s a day celebrated around the world when wheelchair users celebrate the positive impact using a wheelchair has on their lives.

The aim of International Wheelchair Day is to:

  • Enable wheelchair users to celebrate the positive impact a wheelchair has in their lives
  • Celebrate the great work of the many millions of people who provide wheelchairs, who provide support and care for wheelchair users and who make the world a better and more accessible place for people with mobility issues, and
  • Acknowledge and react constructively to the fact there are many tens of millions of people in the world who need a wheelchair, but are unable to acquire one.

In NIISQ, 18% of participants live with a permanent spinal cord injury. Many use wheelchairs in different shapes and sizes to help them live their lives post-accident and we’re honoured to help support them. Read on to learn more about Wes’ story and his determination.

“My glass is 60% full now. I’ve got a lot to live for and I’m thankful for the independence I’ve got.”

When Wes woke up from a 12-day coma following a serious motorbike accident in 2019, just days after his 60th birthday, he realised his life had changed forever.

Spending eight months in hospital post-accident, he said the mental journey was harder than the physical one, as he adjusted to his new life as a paraplegic.

“The way I look at it, you’ve got two choices,” Wes said.

“You can stay sad and mad, and just let life pass you by – or you can pick yourself up, dust yourself off and be thankful for those who have been there for you, even in the tough times.”

In the three years since his accident, Wes has changed his outlook on life. He is grateful to retain a sense of independence and determination, and with a powered chair he has been able to get back to his passions.

“I garden, I mow my own lawn – all these things have been made possible through my powered chair and it has let me take control of my life,” he said.

Once a baker by trade, ‘Wheelchair Wes’ as he often refers to himself, has continued his culinary passions by creating preserves, and we hear he also makes a mean sweet chilli sauce! He also completed a Cert IV course in Occupational Health and Safety post-accident, and finds the work associated fascinating.

“I’m grateful to be alive,” he said. “I shouldn’t have survived my accident, but I did and it has changed my whole outlook on life. I’ve got so much to live for, and so much to do. My only issue is sometimes I need to remind myself to take a break and relax – but these days I don’t see things as work anymore. I’m just passionate about what I do.”