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Most babies come into the world with
cheers and celebrations. Born in 1977, I came into the world with the words "We
have a problem." I was born with a spinal defect (Spina Bifida) that left me with a hole in my back, damage to
the spinal cord, dislocated hips, club-feet and water on the brain
(hydrocephalus) resulting in many, MANY operations needed, partial paralysis and I
choose to use a wheelchair.
At birth the Doctors gave me a 2% chance of survival and a very poor prognosis on the
quality of life I would have, should I survive. I don't even want to go into
they thought about me being educated. Well, I did survive, 47 operations later and
I am sure there are more to come.
Have I had a quality of life? Hell yeah!
You know, sometimes situations seem terrible, not making sense at the time, and
it is only many years later that it all makes sense. Every single interaction
and happening in my life, good and otherwise, have indeed happened for a reason
and worked out for the best. I do not consider my situation to be unique.
My parents did the best they could, allowing me to be as "normal" as I could be. I
was sent to a mainstream school in Grade 1 and I was expelled 6 months into the
year after being considered a "risk" to the school in the event of a disaster, like a fire!?.
After a lengthy court battle with the relevant parties and the department of
education, my parents were forced to place me in a school that catered for
scholars with disabilities, which they did and it turned out to be the best move
they could have made.
It was at
that I was introduced to sports for people with disabilities. In 1989 I was
chosen to represent my province, being
at the time, now
Central Gauteng. I went on to represent my province at the
National Championships from 1989 - 1997 when I retired from competitive
sports to further my studies. Between 1989 and 1997 I won 39 Gold Medals, 16
Silver Medals and 5 Bronze Medals at the National Championships.
I was invited to compete in the
All African International Invitational
in 1995 where I won bronze for 800m Wheelchair Racing. The highlight of my
sporting career was in 1996 when I won Sportsman of the Year at the National
Championships bagging 8 Gold Medals and 8 South African Records, and being
chosen to represent South Africa at the
World Wheelchair Games in Stoke Mandeville, UK, later that year, where I
won Bronze for 100m Breast Stroke.
I was also fortunate in that I excelled in leadership at Hope School, being chosen as
Prefect in Std8 and Std9 and Head Boy / Hostel Head Boy in Matric (1996) and
Rotary Round Table Award for Best Leadership.
Going back to when I was born, there was concern that I wouldn't be educated...
I matriculated Higher Grade with University exemption.
I then went on to study in the Allied Health Professions, qualifying as a Allied
One day in dissection, a fellow student passed the comment,
"What person is going to want to get cured by someone who
themself is not fixed"... a hard comment to swallow indeed and it was
only after studying 5 years and attempting to open my own practice that I
realised there was much truth in that comment.
I made numerous attempts to gain employment in various industries and I was
turned down repeatedly on the basis that I had a disability. So instead of
bumping my head over and over again, I took control of the situation and started
my own business.
Because of my disability, I was always close to the ground and therefore developed an intense fascination for "Creepy Crawlies". I was a mother's worst nightmare!
You name it, I have tried to keep it and breed it! A project I did in Std 4, on scorpions, pointed me in the direction of The Spider Club of Southern Africa.
My love for nature and all things creepy just grew from there. Over the years I kept many species of scorpions, spiders and snakes while still at school. This fascination led to the creation of one of the
first online, e-commerce based Reptile websites in South Africa, called Snakes Alive which my late father designed for me in high school.
On my life's journey, I owned two Pet Shops. The business grew and more time became available for me to pursue other ventures
and so I tried to enter the workplace once more... Things hadn't changed,
perceptions around disability hadn't changed and the only place I could find
employment was at a call centre, being a call centre agent. I only subjected
myself to that hell for 3 months or so before resigning but it was during a
lunch break just before resigning that a colleague commented on my voice and
said that I should try get into radio...
As luck would have it, that same day, in the newspaper was an advertisement
advertising a radio presenting course. I did the course and the rest they say,
My career in radio and TV has been interesting to say the least. For more on my career in the media, check out my
Media Profile for the full story.
I share my life story because there are a few valuable lessons that I feel could
be useful. Heaven forbid that you should go through the same in your life, learn