Lee is a 30-year-old outdoor enthusiast from Australia, who was born with Spina bifida.
Spina bifida is a condition that occurs when a baby’s spinal cord doesn’t develop properly in the womb, causing a gap in the spine. As a result of this condition Lee is confined to a wheelchair. But despite this, he’s determined to live of adventure and to date has skydived, scaled all sorts of terrain, kayaked rivers and regularly plays wheelchair rugby. What a bloody legend right!
Earlier this year Lee travelled on Contiki’s Thai Island Hopper West, and from the start his positive outlook and willingness to join in on everything was utterly infectious. He’s one of our 2017 Contiki heroes, and after hearing his story, we’ll bet you’ll be pretty blown away too.
Tell me about your disability. Has it ever made you hesitant to travel?
Being in a wheelchair as long as I have there is always something that is going to be difficult and over the years I’ve come to expect that, I’ve learned there is no point in getting upset about it – I look at the situation, try and work out a solution and do the best I can. I’m always finding my surroundings, I adapt, and overcome. When it comes to travel I get a little hesitant as I don’t know what to expect, but over the years I’ve picked up on a lot of things. These days I do my research into any place I go beforehand to prepare for what’s to come.
What made you decide to travel with Contiki?
I never really knew much about Contiki, then one morning I got a call from my best mate who told me about a trip he’d just done with Contiki. I was hesitant at first but he twisted my arm and we did The Northern Trek in the summer of 2014.
Tell us a little bit about your travel experience with Contiki…
My first trip with Contiki was amazing! We visited the set of Game Of Thrones, saw the royal palace and had a stag do in Dubrovnik. Oh, and I met BILLY IDOL! Sure I came across a few obstacles but I was with my best mate, so we managed to overcome them. We were with another 50-odd people who all helped me out including the Contiki crew. Whether it was transport or upgrades, there was never a problem. It was a month of adventures and I met some great people, 4 years later I still keep in contact with many of them! I’ve done around 3 maybe 4 Contiki’s now, just in the last few months I’ve been on the Thai Island Hopper West tour and Oktoberfest!! (finally knocked that off the bucket list!).
What’s the most positive thing you’ve taken away from your travels?
Well I’m not worried to ever do another Contiki – I know that they are pretty hands on and are always willing to help. And I had the determination to actually do it! I’ve done things I’ve never done before, I’ve seen amazing views, places, landmarks, fantastic sunsets and beautiful beaches! And I can go on and tell friends of mine in wheelchairs that they can do anything if they put their mind to it! And having a best mate helps too. Scott and I have been friends for almost 26 years and without him and his help I couldn’t do half the things I wanted to do. We plan on doing many more Contiki’s in the future!
Is there any advice you’d give to people in a similar position to you?
Don’t let fear stop you, just go for it! If you run into trouble there is always a way around it. Don’t let your disability hold you back, take a chance!