By MONIQUE KUZEFF
“A TRUE potential is not limited by a disability or any other kind of obstacle we might believe could hold us back.”
This is what Dave Jacka, the first quadriplegic to fly solo around Australia said just before embarking on a three-month journey tackling the Murray River from Lake Hume, NSW to Goolwa, SA.
At age 19, Mr Jacka suffered a motorbike accident that left him in a state of quadriplegia. Today, only 6 per cent of his motor functions are retained, with the inability to move anything from his armpits down.
Mr Jacka took to the challenge of paddling the 2225km length of the Murray River as another personal test to see where his limits lay, physically and mentally.
He told News Weekly he also aimed to raise awareness of the potential that people with disabilities have and to encourage people to “just give things a go”.
“I want to show that we have the ability to unlock our own inner spirits if only we get out and give things a go and be open to where the journey takes you,” Mr Jacka said.
Being a quadriplegic, Mr Jacka said he would be faced with quite difficult challenges but was willing to face and overcome them.
“It will probably be one of the toughest challenges. Certainly a mental challenge and a massive physical challenge as I have limited arm function and no finger function at all.
“The weather will also pose a challenge with the extreme cold and hot as I’m unable to regulate my body temperature, and if it gets very windy my limited strength will make it very hard for me to paddle against that.”
Over the years, Mr Jacka said he has spent some time holidaying on the Murray River and often saw people paddling down.
“It’s a beautiful area and I thought it would be a fantastic opportunity to experience the nature, the people and just a beautiful part of the world,
“The landscape is always changing, and I’ve always liked kayaking down the river.”
Mr Jacka said he looked forward to his new adventure and had many people to thank for supporting him through the expedition.
“It’s a real team effort and it’s made a reality because of the support of volunteers behind me.
“It’s quite life changing when you paddle down the Murray.”