Rick is a wheelchair basketballer and retired tennis player, who has competed both nationally and globally. He is also an advocate for road safety, a teacher's aid, and a loving husband to Rebekah. Rick was born with Spina Bifida and he has only recently accessed the medical support required to enable him to use catheters for the first time.
A sporting tradition
Rick's energy is palpable. He is clearly a highly trained athlete, with a strong physique and the lean, hungry look of the elite sportsman.
Rick grew up on the NSW central coast, until his family moved to The Netherlands for a possible operation for Rick, and to visit family. They returned to Australia in 2004.
The middle boy of three, Rick is part of a family of avid sports lovers. He began playing basketball at age 6 but soon became involved in tennis, showing a natural talent and quickly rising to an exceptional standard. He has represented Australia at the World Team Cup (The wheelchair version of the Davis Cup) three times. Rick has travelled all over the world to compete and tennis is still the sport that triggers his proudest sporting memories.
Rick also spent a year playing wheelchair rugby league, representing Australia in the 2013 World Cup. Unfortunately, several health issues have kept him out of the sport since.
Teaching reality to kids
Rick works for Wheelchair Sports NSW teaching able-bodied kids what it’s like to rely on a wheelchair. He travels around schools speaking to groups about taking care on the roads, avoiding risky behaviours and the reality of life in the chair. At the end of his talk he brings out 12 basketball wheelchairs for the kids to try. They quickly discover that manoeuvring around a sporting arena is no easy task and are even more impressed by Rick’s skills with the chair. He also works as teacher’s aide in a local primary school.
Love blossoms at the basketball
Until 2009 Rick and his wife, Rebekah, a teacher, were part of a group of mutual friends for several years, but they had yet to meet. Then they ran into each other at a wheelchair basketball competition in Brisbane and both felt an instant connection. Soon the conversation was flowing and by the end of the weekend, they knew something special was happening. Sure enough, love blossomed, Rick proposed in 2010 and they married in 2011.
On Spina Bifida
Rick was born with Spina Bifida & Hydrocephalus. Spina Bifida occurs in the womb when the baby's spinal column does not close all of the way. In Rick’s case, this resulted in a loss of function in the lower body. Hydrocephalus is caused by a buildup of cerebrospinal fluid around the brain. Rick required surgery for both conditions, including the installation of a shunt with a small catheter inserted into the brain, which drains the excess fluid into another part of the body.
Spina Bifida impacts voluntary bladder function and Rick’s bladder capacity was also very small. It was not until 2009 that Rick saw a urologist who treated his condition by injecting Botox into his bladder. The Botox paralyses the bladder and prevents it from contracting at lower fluid volumes. Repeated botox injections over a period of years have meant that Rick's bladder capacity has improved considerably. This also means Rick can self catheterise for the first time.
Rick receives limited funding from the government, which provides him with some of the catheters he requires, but not enough. To make up the short fall, Rick came to Paralogic, as “Paralogic provide a great service and products are local and cheaper in price compared to other providers of catheters”.
For Rick, after a lifetime of procedures and medical interventions, self catheterising was easy to learn and he’s absorbed this change with the same positive, matter of fact approach he takes to almost everything in his life. The lifestyle benefits for Rick as a result of catheterising have been considerable.
The future looks promising
Rick and Rebekah like to live day by day and take everything as it comes, they look forward to the surprises that the future holds. Rick is now part of the Sydney Uni Wheel Kings and his next goal is to represent Australia in basketball. Knowing him, it’s only a matter of time.