Brendan Stroud’s love of sport has ‘literally’ saved his life. After a near-fatal road accident at the age of 22, Brendan suffered a spinal cord injury and became a paraplegic.
‘All the sport I did before my accident, was fantastic obviously, but after I got out of hospital, not knowing what to do with my life, I didn’t know sport was around. I suffered from severe depression on the first anniversary of my accident, and almost wasn’t here again. But then I found sport, and I took to basketball like a duck to water. If I didn’t have that outlet, I may not be here. It was a pretty big step – I mean, “push”’ he says.
Despite the trauma in his life, Brendan believes that negative experiences can be a vital turning point in the lives of others, and channels all his major life experiences into motivational speaking.
‘I love what I do with my talks. We’re looking at road safety, mental illnesses, and diversity of disabilities. Tough times don’t last, and it’s okay to not feel okay. Getting people to realise another way of expressing themselves and getting it out of their system rather than keeping it in is the key’.
‘Having come from where I’ve come from in my life before my accident, living through a hellish period of getting in trouble with the law, drugs, alcohol, family issues, death … I use those life experiences to hopefully enlighten somebody else. I hope to educate, empower, and inspire others’.
‘Because road safety and mental illness has been a big part of my life, I like opening up about that, to educate people about what steps to take next. We’ve got light all around us, but without letting go, the light starts to get darker and darker’.
A passionate advocate of disability awareness and supporter of Disability Sport and Recreation, this is Brendan’s third year presenting with WheelTalk – DSR’s disability awareness program. Every year, WheelTalk visits more than 20,000 Victorian students to raise disability awareness and promote the benefits of a healthy lifestyle.
‘WheelTalk was initiated to go ‘round from schools to universities to corporate, to educate everybody about DSR, varying disabilities, the stats of how many disabilities there are in Australia—there are about 4 million and 650 million worldwide—and getting people in sports chairs to play wheelchair basketball, or whatever sport we’re doing at the time. We aim to get people to realise regardless if we have disabilities, we still pretty much all laugh, bleed, cry. We also educate people about how we want to interact and be included into mainstream life – that’s what DSR is about, getting people out there doing something recreational, instead of sitting behind closed doors’.
Brendan’s sporting career is nothing short of—as he would put it—fantastic. He has won medals for wheelchair basketball at international competitions in Manchester, Korea, and Thailand, and gold medals at the Kitakyushu Champions Cup in Japan in 2005 and the Asia Oceania Championships in the same year. He was the Australian Open wheelchair tennis winner in 1997, 1998 and 2000, the wheelchair basketball coach of the year in 2007 and the best defensive player in 2000, the Women’s National Basketball League coach from 2007 – 2010, as well as coaching his daughter’s basketball team.
‘I love sport, it is my thing. But I’m a masseuse and a photographer, too, and I love gardening, I’ve just finished doing my backyard. I also like to think I’m a comedian, I’m working on a stand-up show called “Stand Up with a Thud”. It’s coming out when I can stand up’.
Article written by Sidney Shaw.