Charity ambassador supports cause

NAZIM Erdem became a quadriplegic at the age of 20 while trying to impress some girls by pier diving.

Before his accident Mr Erdem was an aspiring sportsman.

After his accident he continued those aspirations in a different direction.

In 2002 he became the first person with a spinal cord injury to paraglide solo.

Then Mr Erdem began playing wheelchair rugby in 1992 and by 2000 he was a part of the national team.

He contested the Sydney 2000 Paralympics, then Athens in 2004, Beijing in 2008 and London in 2012. Throughout this time he won a silver and a gold medal.

"I saw the game as continuing my rehab and gaining peer support from the other guys," Mr Erdem said.

He is now an ambassador for Foundation 97 Ltd, an organisation which supports people with spinal cord injuries.

"Should my accident have happened at work or in a car, my situation would have been a lot better financially," Mr Erdem said.

"Instead of a wage from my previous employer, I went straight onto the disability support pension, which wasn't much at all," he said.

"Foundation 97 will change the lives of people with a spinal cord injury. Noel and Tracey have done a fantastic job with their true dedication."

Foundation 97 co-founder Tracey Clarke said the organisation had been developing for the past 18 months but was registered in the middle of last year.

"We support the spinal cord injured that are non-funded," she said.

"The majority are 16 to 25-year-olds.

"Eighty per cent are male.

"They're forced onto a pension because there are no other programs.

"$5000 to $9000 in equipment is needed for each person."

Sixty per cent of Australians with spinal cord injuries do not receive any form of ongoing compensation.

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