On a Saturday afternoon in August 1973 on my way to a Lions project, I had a motorbike accident on the Shute Harbour Road. Olga was 8 months pregnant. I broke my back and after six long difficult months in the PA Hospital learning to live my life as a paraplegic I returned to a two story home, which was inaccessible. With no Government help in those days, no insurance and no job prospects life looked bleak. The Lions and League Clubs had some fundraisers and the Lions put in a hand winched lift. I wasn't able to go back to work but fortunately 15 months later I was employed part time by the then Proserpine Shire Council as Parking Officer.
This opened up a whole new world, not only for me but for the general public who in those days like ourselves knew little or nothing about People with Disabilities. This job later progressed to include parking in Airlie Beach and by-laws.
Over the next few years I discovered Wheelchair Sport which became my great love and perhaps and obsession. From 1976 to 1996, I achieved great success in Qld. Australia and overseas. I found I had a talent for endurance racing and by best performance was in the marathon.
In 1984, I was selected to represent Australia in the Paralympics in England. I won two gold, two silver and two bronze and made the National News. On my return, the whole district turned out for a ticker tape parade and a civic reception in the newly built Entertainment Centre where a plaque hangs in recognition of this achievement.
In 1981, the Year of the Disabled a documentary was made on our family, which aired all over Australia.
In 1988, I went to the Seoul Paralympics and won two silver and two bronze, and in 1992 Barcelona a silver and a bronze.
My Australian Marathon record still stands today.
After my accident and before the Wheelchair Sport I sailed a Cobra with the Sailing Club at Airlie Beach when there was no Club House just a dedicated group of people and we gathered on the Airlie foreshore and sailed from there.
Always being interested in Community affairs I endeavoured to educate people on Disability and have served on many committees and spoken to many local schools and other groups and organisations. I was on the Qld. Disability Council for four years and I am Patron of the Whitsunday Athletics Club and the Whitsunday Triathlon Club.
Alan Dufty - Whitsunday Council Division 2