LINCOLN Budge admits life is more difficult in a wheelchair but he has never been one to sit around and complain about what he can’t do.
The 30-year-old Yackandandah man started his Change One Life project aimed at young people who engage in high-risk behaviour this month.
Eight years ago Lincoln was involved in a car accident in Corryong which left him a paraplegic on the weekend of his 22nd birthday.
“After my accident, I made a decision in hospital that I was going to use every muscle that still functioned in my body to have as much fun and to enjoy life as much as I can,” he said.
Despite the difficult time ahead, Lincoln made the most of his physical abilities.
He travelled around the world and competed in water-skiing, wheelchair basketball and snow-skiing.
Lincoln started snow-skiing at Falls Creek with his family as a way to keep active during winter when taking to the water wasn’t an option.
“I hated the snow before and I thought it’s only going to be more difficult in a wheelchair,” he said.
Lincoln was scouted by the Australian Winter Paralympic team and travelled to Canada, the US and Japan to train and compete.
“I spent four years training with the Paralympic team and I was slowly improving my world ranking,” he said.
“I raced in four different events and for all four events I believe I was in around the top 50 to 60 in the world.”
But two years ago, Lincoln injured his right shoulder while speed-skiing in Japan.
“I came into the turn and just lost it,” he said. “I started tumbling at 80km/h and my arm got pulled in a way that it probably shouldn’t have, I never fully recovered.
“The decision to retire from skiing was made this winter which is where the decision came to put more time and effort into the project that I’m starting up.”
Change One Life Project, a disability awareness program, is comprised of a 30-minute presentation followed by a game of wheelchair basketball with the audience.
Lincoln talks to school students from prep to university about his story, road safety, consequences of choices and why he gave up alcohol.
“I put down a lot of my success to the fact that I gave up drinking six months after my accident,” he said.
“I was a big drinker prior and I had to stop.
“Getting the chairs is the first hurdle and then I can get out there and start the program.”
Lincoln plans to purchase 10 basketball wheelchairs to use in his program. Each chair costs $3000.
Earlier this month, Lincoln received donations from Yackandandah community groups to buy his first wheelchair.
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