I've often said that my proudest moment was the day we founded Sport Access Foundation on Australia Day in 2017.
Launching Sport Access Foundation was made possible by my mentors and sponsors - especially Kristie Keast of BlueScope; Katie Page of Harvey Norman and Greg Nash of PICA Group. Thanks to their support, I had the capacity establish Sport Access Foundation and ensure we could support our next generation of young Australians living with a disability to access sport.
I was honoured to learn a few weeks ago that I was named a finalist in the inaugural Sport Australia's AIS Community Engagement Award for my work in Sport Access Foundation and other events in the 2019 year. Congratulations to my fellow finalists, all outstanding individuals (listed below). In many ways you could say the greatest rewards are when you are able to give a little back to the many who have given you so much. On that note, thank you to all those sporting club volunteers who made it possible for me to participate in sports from the humble beginnings of my Casino Amateur Swim Club in Northern NSW through to my joining my first Triathlon Club in Newcastle and Darwin.
Below is part of the Media Statement from Sport Australia on November 21, 2019:
The AIS has announced the introduction of the Athlete Community Engagement Award, a celebration of the outstanding positive influence an athlete has on the community. The inaugural award will be presented at next month’s AIS Sport Performance Awards (#ASPAs).
Four outstanding Australian international representatives have been shortlisted as finalists, rewarding the overall impact they have had on the broader community across inclusion, diversity, health and mental wellbeing.
The Community Engagement Award recognises the strong commitment the AIS is making to ensure athletes have the right balance between wellbeing, engagement in activities outside of training and competition and the requirements of elite sport.
Finalists for Athlete Community Engagement Award are:
Dylan Alcott (Wheelchair Tennis): Dylan used his profile to become a leading advocate for people with a disability, establishing two foundations, including the Dylan Alcott Foundation, and created the Ability Fest music festival. He is focused on changing the perception of people with disabilities and promoting diversity and inclusion.
Katie Kelly (Para-triathlon): Katie has made an enormous contribution in 2019. Katie is the Founder and Director of the Sport Access Foundation, is a Board member with Deafsport Australia and has delivered pro-bono speeches to Cricket Australia’s national inclusion camps and to the INAS Global Games Sports Summit. She also supports and mentors parents as well as young aspiring Paralympians through Sport Access Foundation.
Jenna O’Hea (Basketball): After losing her uncle to suicide, Jenna worked with Lifeline and the WNBL to create Lifeline Round where every three point shot scored converted into a $1,000 donation to assist Lifeline train more crisis supporters. Jenna is also involved in the AIS Lifeline Community Custodians program and delivers important messages about suicide prevention and mental health at events throughout the country.
Dylan Pietsch (Rugby Sevens): Dylan has been volunteering at Ronald McDonald House in Randwick up to three days per week undertaking various tasks such as scrubbing floors, emptying bins, cleaning bathrooms and walking the dog, all with a big smile on his face. He also volunteered for Jarred Hodges’ Dream Big Time Tour where he mentored young indigenous players from remote communities as they sought Rugby Sevens contracts.