MICHAEL Taylor refuses to let his spinal cord injury stop him living life to the fullest.
Mr Taylor said he spent a lot of sleepless nights after being paralysed from the waist down following a motorcycle crash in 2003.
But he soon accepted the fact he would never walk again and, while manoeuvring around in a wheelchair could be tough, there were few things he couldn’t do.
“Sports, work, travel... there’s nothing you can’t do because you’re in a wheelchair,” he said.
“You’ve just got to adjust it to suit a chair.
“You can do anything you want if you’re willing to adapt.”
Mr Taylor said he is ranked number one in Australia for handcycle racing, where arms are used to power a bicycle rather than legs, and 17th in the world.
He regularly rides his bike around the Bendigo region.
“You just need to have lots of planning and be aware of your surroundings,” he said.
“I was a positive person before the crash and my attitude is still the same.”
Despite the optimism, his spirits were dampened for a period after his injury.
“A lot of things go through your mind when you’re told you’ll never walk again... it’s a surreal feeling and you hope the doctor’s wrong,” Mr Taylor said.
“It affects so many things throughout your body and I think it’s very hard for people to understand and comprehend.
“I was fairly fit and healthy and when people come in and visit you, you can’t do anything, you lay there because there’s nothing you can do.
“Family and friends who come in to cheer you up and they’re disheartened too.”
Mr Taylor said quickly accepting his injury helped his recovery, both mentally and physically.
He now hopes to help others through new walking fund-raiser Steps for Independence, which will be held state wide November 17.
“We’re looking at doing something for that, possibly at Lake Weeroona with a few people to create awareness,” he said.
“It’s a new concept so we need to find out more information and get a few people together.”
Groups can register and donate at stepsforindependence.com.au