Two friends and teammates coming off a silver medal at the 2012 London Paralympics games in Wheelchair Basketball have turned their sights to the next challenge. In June 2013 they want to be part of the first tour group ever to ride the perimeter of Fiji.
This is no ordinary ride for Leanne Del Toso, who developed a degenerative neurological condition when she was just 19. Leanne suffered muscle deterioration in both her legs and hands and rides a bike with the help of specially made orthotics that support her legs. Leanne's Teammate Shelley Chaplin will be seeing the roads around Fiji from a different standpoint. Born with a disability that has left Shelley an incomplete paraplegic, Shelley will be completing the ride from a Handcycle.
Leanne and Shelley will ride 550km in just 10 days.
Along the way they will be stopping at local villages, meeting and greeting and mentoring people with disabilities.
The aims of the trip are:
- To use sport and recreation as a means to build capacity in-country to reduce the stigma associated with disability
- To benefit the local population who have disability in-country (eg. donation of sports wheelchairs)
- To provide disability awareness and education to locals through WheelTalk presentations at schools along the route
- To create positive role models in accessible and inclusive sport and recreation
- To facilitate greater participation in the competition/elite-level-sport from Asia-Pacific countries
- To identify the unique sport and recreation participation needs for people with disability abroad and develop strategies with partner organisations to enable participation
Source: Cycle Power - Disability, Sport and Recreation Initiative http://cyclepower.org.au/
This is a cause that is very close to both their hearts: "Being introduced to wheelchair sports and in particular wheelchair basketball changed my life, it has created opportunities for me to excel in sport, to represent my country and to chase adventures around the world," Chaplin says. "It is so important for people with disabilities to realise they can do anything and do not have to be limited by disability."
Del Toso echoes her sentiments and adds: "Sports for people with disabilities are not only important to the individual but also to the greater community who may also place imitations on people with disabilities. We are always looking to challenge ourselves as athletes, but also to challenge the way society think about people with disabilities."
Your generous donations will also help provide sport and recreation opportunities for underprivileged Victorians with a Disability.
Day 1: 07/06 Daytime Flight into Nadi
Day 2: 08/06 Cycle Nadi to Sigatoka (60km)
Day 3: 09/06 Cycle Sigatoka to Pacific Harbour (80km)
Day 4: 10/06 Cycle Pacific Harbour to Lami, Suva (43km)
Day 5: 11/06 Rest day Suva
Day 6: 12/06 Cycle Suva to Lawaki (73km)
Day 7: 13/06 Cycle Lawaki to Rakiraki (96km)
Day 8: 14/06 Cycle Rakiraki to Ba (70km)
Day 9: 15/06 Cycle Ba to Nadi (65km). Morning excursion to Navala
Day 10: 16/06 Morning at leisure. Depart in afternoon & arrive 12:15
We've created some fun rewards to thank you for your donations. Please note that any rewards that require us to travel must be held in the Melbourne metro area. If you have any questions about any of the incentives, use the comments tab to get in touch with us.
Diamond Valley Leader article about Leanne (28/3/13):