Jake had started riding motor cross as an alternative to playing rugby league due to a pre-existing medical condition. A country kid, living at boarding school in Tamworth, he would race every other weekend on a dirt track in Coonabarabran.
“My dad tried to put me off doing jumps and wanted me to focus more on ‘enduro’ or road riding but I was never into that. I just wanted to do the jumps… We don’t always listen to our parents.”
Jake injured his c5 and C6 vertebrae and spent almost a year in hospital in Sydney. After years of intense physiotherapy and a nerve transplant operation, he has regained some movement in his upper arms, wrists and fingers.
These days Jake can drive (a modified vehicle), can type, can paint and is even learning how to play wheelchair rugby. His physiotherapist, who lives in Newcastle, recently introduced Jake to a retired para-Olympian, Grant Nicholls, who has given him lots of advice on wheelchair racing.
“My goal is to travel to Ballarat in 2022 for a national bike racing event. Ideally, I’d like to one day move to Newcastle. There are no wheelchair sports in Tamworth but there are in Newcastle and Sydney.”
Jake started following What Ability on Instagram and became mates with founder and CEO Steve Dresler. The pair bonded over their shared passion for rugby league.
“I love what Steve is doing using athletes as support workers. It’s really cool. Seeing little kids with smiles on their faces means so much. It’s the small stuff that Steve and his team do with these kids that can make their day – and it makes my day too seeing it happen!”
“I’m proud to be a part of What Ability and would like to see the Foundation assist all kinds of people with a disability.”
Jake loves sharing his story with groups and is looking to develop his public speaking skills. Your can follow Jake on Instagram @journey4jake @kamilaroicreative