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Australia Snowy Mountains man defies odds to ride 500km for cerebral palsy awareness

10:30  14 may  2021
10:30  14 may  2021 Source:   abc.net.au

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Pete Wilson has already been awarded an Australia Day honour for his efforts to raise money and awareness to support children with cerebral palsy, but he is back defying the odds and effects of the condition.

Taking part in 'The Extra Mile', the aged care and disability support coordinator is hoping to ride more than 500 kilometres this month, with the humble goal of raising up to $3,000 — all to give back to the support network that he relied upon when he was younger.

"It was a very problematic childhood … so for me it's been a process of wanting to give and wanting to help other kids setting out, and beginning their journey, just like I did," he said.

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In 1967 in Adaminaby in the NSW Snowy Mountains, Mr Wilson was injured during childbirth, and left with cerebral palsy, affecting the movement of his right side.

Cerebral palsy, according the Cerebral Palsy Alliance, is "a physical disability that affects movement and posture", which is caused through injury to a baby's developing brain.

It's the most common physical disability in Australia, with most of those with the condition injured either during pregnancy or before four weeks of age.

Now 53 years old, Mr Wilson said his family never let him believe he was different or affected by the condition and encouraged him to be as physical as possible during his childhood.

"My parents were of the opinion that I should always give something a go … so I would always accompany the family on our cross-country ski adventures and walking adventures," he said.

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However, as with many living with cerebral palsy, as he got older he began to notice more limitations on his physical capacity.

Spurred on by his parents' life-long stance that the condition would not define him, Mr Wilson decided to confront his increasing body pain head-on, and re-tackle one of the hardest hikes he did with his family as a child — Mt Kosciuszko.

"The idea of actually setting out to walk to Kosci again was a huge undertaking as my physiotherapist would attest to," he said.

The trek was physically strenuous and Mr Wilson needed nine people for support, but he said it was well worth the pain in more ways than one.

"My challenge is first and foremost to be the best version of myself and also in the process I am hoping to raise some funds for other kids living with cerebral palsy," he said.

With more than $17,000 raised so far, and an Australia Day recognition of his efforts, Mr Wilson is back defying the odds with the aim of rounding out an even $20,000 for the cause.

'The Extra Mile' gives participants targets of 100, 200 or even 500 kilometres — an ambitious target for the average person and even more so for someone with a physical disability.

Just two weeks into the challenge, Mr Wilson has already broken boundaries and smashed his personal goals, having just ticked over 430km.

"I've decided to push myself to see just how far I can ride. 1,000km is even possible!"

"Until I got going I did not realise just how far I had come both physically and mentally.

"There is no-one more surprised than myself."

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