Local Hero : Andrew Bedggood
IN 2009, Andrew Bedggood with five others completed the inaugural Sale to Sea Disability Challenge in choppy waters which saw one boat capsize in the Gippsland lakes. In 2013, about 60 kayakers completed the journey, with 15 disabled kayakers taking on the challenge for the first time.
The Sale to Sea Disability Challenge is the brainchild of Andrew Bedggood, and it raises awareness for Caulfield Hospital and Limbs for Life, organisations that aided Andrew when he became an amputee at age 19, following a motor vehicle accident 26 years ago, and still provide practical advice, support and prosthetics for amputees.
“I lost my right leg below the knee and the lower left leg was crushed. There was all the rehabilitation, learning to walk again, the psychological impact, depression – I wanted to die,” Andrew recalls. “So that was the pivotal point of my life. I had to work with the people who were looking after me. I had to make that big decision that life is still there to be lived. ‘Live life to the max’ is my motto, and has been from that day.”
Kayaking was part of Andrew’s physiotherapy, and it was while paddling up many of the local rivers and waterways that the idea of the Challenge was born.
The Sale to Sea Disability Challenge is a three day event that travels 120 kilometres from Sale to Lakes Entrance through the Gippsland Lakes. The money raised benefits those living with disability and charities that support them. Support for the event has come from around Australia and it has attracted international interest.
Participants have included people with all kinds of disabilities – breast cancer survivors, people with hearing loss, with intellectual disabilities, amputees, even a stroke survivor who paddled one-handed.
“They’re coming from all walks of life. Our catch cry is: true character is found in adversity, but strength is held in one’s mind.”