‘DON’T judge a book by its cover’ is the message from inspirational quadriplegic Dave Jacka.
Jacka is about to become the first quadriplegic person to fly solo around Australia and the 44-year-old called in to Mandurah this week as part of his record-breaking journey.
The self-described “average person” said his journey was to help educate the community on quadriplegia.
“When I wanted to fly it was very difficult to find someone to teach me … it’s not discrimination it is about that people just don’t understand,” he said.
“Even getting a job was really difficult as you mention the word quadriplegic and people think you can’t do it or can’t understand.
“This whole flight is about raising everyone’s expectations to what we can do… it’s about education.”
Jacka was just four days shy of his 20th birthday when he broke his fifth vertebrae in a motorcycle accident after being thrown “head first into a tree”.
But the inspirational Victorian has continued to shine and was a part of the 1996 Paralympic wheelchair rugby squad and currently works as a project manager for Melbourne Water.
Jacka said the flight had been a great experience after he specially designed the plane to suit his abilities.
“I have only six per cent of my physical function,” he said.
With no finger function, tricep muscles or ability to regulate his own body temperature, Jacka said he was determined to get to this weekend’s finish line after the month-long journey.
With his wife Linda and a support crew on assisting planes, Jacka appears set to touch down back in Victoria this weekend.
Weather conditions have changed Jacka’s original schedule around the country but he and his support team have been able to adjust to the conditions to ensure their safety.
For now Jacka said he is looking forward to going home with the “finish line near” and inspiring others to achieve their best.
“I’ve got an obvious disability, but everyone’s got challenges in life,” he said.
“We are only limited by what we think we can do.”