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The adventure starts and continues

About rideforsmiles

Why this adventure

The standard question when it comes to such and adventure is, Why? Well lets just say on the 25th October 2007 just over 2 years ago I got a bump in the right direction. It wasnt on that day that I just came out and thought "oh im off to Africa" but it was a definfing moment in my life that led me to the later decision to do the trip.

    On that day I was driving down the Pacific Highway at Brunswick Heads in northern New South Wales when I pulled over to answer my mobile phone and a semi trailer hit me from behind taking me and everything with it. How I escaped, well no one will ever know lets just say I'm either destined to do something more with my life or I could be just one of those always lucky people that gets away with everything, I like to think it's both.
From the accident I was taken to Tweed Heads intensive care, my injuries included a dozen or so fractured ribs in the right side of my chest, five in my back, collapsed lung, lacerated liver, nearly in half apparently and I bled internally which wasn't much fun as it was filling my chest up so I couldn't breath. It wasn't looking good for me at Tweed Heads so they decided it was in my best interests if I was flown to Princess Alexandria Hospital in Brisbane via the Care Flight helicopter where they had a specialist that may be able to help if I kept bleeding . Its not something I would like to put my at the time 17 year old son Jared through again, a lot of that time is sketchy but ill never forget holding Jared's hand and saying  " I love you Jaz just grow up to be a good man", not something I recommend, to see him so upset was ordinary to say the least. On a positive note while I was lying there feeling the life drain out of me I had no regrets about my life already and thought to myself "well I've had a good run" so if it was to be my time then I was quite cool with it, fortunately for me it wasn't my time and has left me with a sense of its all a bonus now what ever happens.
    This is where all the physiologist out there will say I'm mad and I need to take a pill but all my life I've had this regular reoccurring dream that I was in a yellow helicopter crash, in my dream I climb out of the side of the helicopter and walk away from it looking back at it smashed on the ground thinking "WOW that was close" I even asked them at Tweed Heads Hospital when they said they were going to fly me by helicopter if I could go by road as I've always had this dream and they simply said you wont make it by road  and that I had to go by the helicopter. So they got me all ready I said my goodbyes and they wheeled me out and there was this yellow helicopter exactly like the one I've dreamt about all my life, as soon as I saw it I knew I was going to be ok as I always survived it in my dreams, weird I know, crazy maybe who really knows and I haven't had the dream since. I wish I could of seen Jared again at that moment as he had a terrible few hour drive ahead of him not knowing if I was going to be there when he got to Brisbane but I knew as soon as I saw that helicopter I was going to be ok. I know take a pill lol....... NoThanks
     A few weeks in intensive care in PA, an operation on my chest then a week or so in the general ward and I was out of there. Lisa a good friend picked me up from hospital and took me back to her place for the night and then drove me back to Brunswick Heads in the morning and the hard work and  recovery process began. It didn't start to well, when I was released from hospital they gave me one pack of pain killers that lasted about 24 hours, apparently I was supposed to get up and go book into see a GP, needless to say a day or two later I was flat on my bed crying in pain when Graeme who I'm doing the trip with came around and he went and saw the doctor and organised for me to get some painkillers.
The first few months was horrendous the pain was just unbelievable. I spent a few months in bed only getting out briefly then in about March 2008 I started to get out and heading down to the soccer oval to just catch up with everyone and then took on a manager role for the reserve grade squad, I wasn’t really doing anything the boys carried all the gear for me so I was just there but it was great to be around the game I loved even if I was feeling like absolute crap doing it. I got myself off the morphine based painkillers as quick as I could they were shocking and anyone that has been on them will know exactly what I mean, doesn't make for clear thinking and feeling good and although I've had more pain for being off them my philosophy is "if I'm feeling pain I'm alive".
    Its been a very very tough 2 years and it's hard to stay positive sometimes but that's what makes the journey through life so wonderful it's just not good all the time and we learn from all our experiences. Its the tough times when we learn the lessons that make us the people we are. The good times we are just to busy enjoying ourselves to learn anything.
    I sometimes still doubt myself but only briefly as I know nothings impossible if you set your mind to it and my philosophy that "no one is going to do it for you, you just have to get off your ass and do it and help yourself" definitely applies here, in saying that I've had a lot of wonderful people helping me along the way. If my story can help one person that has been recovering from a bad injury to get up and set a positive goal and help in their recovery then that's great,  I can certainly see how easy it is to slip the other way.
    People often ask me has it changed my life, well obviously it has but it hasn't changed my outlook on life cause I loved every minute of it already, I must admit the first time I walked back in the ocean i was thinking how beautiful is this, the first time I walked back onto a soccer field in the pouring down rain I thought this is so much fun, even just walking down the street with my youngest son Logan, just all the little stuff that we can sometimes take for granted were just amplified a hundred times. Its a nice feeling, one I wish I could share with everyone without you having to go through what I did to get that feeling.
     So back to the trip and why, about 12 months ago I was struggling away and I thought I need to set a goal to help stay focused and positive it just came to me with the soccer world cup next year that I would go to Africa and ride a motorbike from South Africa to Europe, either while the world cup was on or after and help along the way, I know, couldn't I have just set a goal to walk to the shop or something easier. Well going to Africa and doing something positive has always been a dream of mine,  even as a kid I had an affinity with Lake Victoria so I guess ill find out why when I get there and i've alwasy wanted to go to the pyramids. When I mentioned my idea to Graeme he just said when are we going. We haven't set a sunset clause on when we actually get there as I still have some recovering to do but with a positive mind and the attitude of just "muscle up ya softy" ill get there next year, either way the raising of soccer gear is already underway, the linking of schools is underway and the raising awareness of Riders for Health is underway, so the journey has already begun.
    Two of my favorite sayings are  "your not defeated when you lose your defeated when you quit" and "it may be just a drop in the ocean but with every drop that ocean is closer to being filled" at this time in my life both these saying's mean a lot to me.
    Its funny I'm just reading through what I've written again, there has been so much more happen in the last 2 year's some of it not so good, but it's all been a great learning curve of just how precious life is and just how quickly it can be taken away so never leave it till tomorrow to tell the ones close to you  that you love them. I've been lucky to be surrounded by some of the greatest friends anyone could have that go back to as far as kindergarten and a family (little loges you are my hero buddy) to help me through it all but some people just aren't as lucky as I have been so to give back even just a little will be nice.
    If by taking one pair of football boots to Ethiopia can bring a smile to one kids face imagine if we can kit out a whole heap of the kid's in schools over in Ethiopia, there's already been discussion about an Australia v Ethiopia soccer game with the kids which would be absolutely amazing fun, so start sending those old boots, shirts shorts and bring a smile to a kids face.
    So did I answer the question on why, I guess in the wash up, why? why not. I guess in a way its a little selfish as I set this goal to help myself in my recovery but if I can bring a smile to a kids face and help in even in a small way then the second chance I've been gifted with will be positive.
    That's the story so far, there will plenty more to come hopefully and thank you to everyone that has helped so far in every way..
Take Care............Sheldon

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