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Climb Every Mountain David Riley of the Kenmore Ward in the


Climb Every Mountain David Riley of the Kenmore Ward in the

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									Climb Every Mountain
By Christopher Cooper

David Riley of the Kenmore Ward in the Centenary Stake in Brisbane was recently elected to be
Chairman of the Board and President of the Spinal Injuries Association – an organisation that
provides services and support for people living with a spinal cord injury. David has been an
active member of the Association for several years where he has assisted with their training
programs for carers. David was elected onto the Board of the Association in November 2006,
and in November 2007, he was elected as President of the Association.

An avid sportsman, David regularly trained at the gym,
cycled and ran. He was a competent scuba diver and dived
locally on the Barrier Reef, Byron Bay and Vanuatu. He
enjoyed an active social life with his children and studied
martial arts, holding a black belt in karate.

In April 1995 while cycling to work, David suffered a high-
level spinal cord injury which left him paralysed from the
neck down and dependant on a ventilator. As a result of the       David Riley, President of the Spinal Injuries
injury, David now requires specialised 24-hours care.             Association (Picture courtesy of David Riley)

“My helmet saved me from severe head injury, but did not prevent the spinal cord injury when
the vertebra just below the base on my head fractured, crushing my spinal cord. Instantly, I could
not breathe and could not move. The next two weeks were spent in the intensive care unit, my
life hanging by a thread. A halo brace secured my head and neck. My body was pinned to a
board rotating every few hours. Tubes were coming from everywhere, a chest drain, IVs, a nasal
tube for feeding me, and I felt more like an android than a human. Family and friends visited,
much of which I do not remember. I prayed so hard that this nightmare would end and I could
leave the next Monday on my planned vacation.”

During the next twenty months in the spinal injuries unit, David conditioned his body to a strict
routine necessary to survive. Hundreds of hours were spent learning about his conditions and
limitations, as well as his capacity. David spent many months re-evaluating his life, considering
accommodation options outside the spinal unit, and especially his future livelihood considering
that the cost of care and equipment was estimated at $250,000.00 per year. Although highly
qualified in his field, it seemed a futile future endeavour continuing a career in “human

David was a graduate of the University of Queensland with a degree in Human Movement
Studies (Education). He had lectured at TAFE College for seven years in Anatomy, Physiology,
Health, Nutrition and Fitness Leadership. He was co-author of the Fitness Leader Training
Course in Queensland and was a past president and life member of the Queensland Fitness and
Health Association. David also ran a successful business testing and prescribing programs for
both elite and non-elite athletes.

Not one to ever quit, David has since worked as an advisor for TAFE Queensland in commercial
activities and he maintains business interests in a number of companies. He regularly visits
various groups presenting information on disabilities as well as motivational talks. David is
often called upon to visit the Spinal Injuries Unit and the Independent Living Centre to provide
support for people with recent injuries and those making a transition from hospital to home based
care. David also employs, trains and manages his own care team and maintains an interest in
health and fitness by training personal friends at his home.

David moved from the teaching field to the International Business Unit of TAFE Queensland,
where he became Senior Consultant. His role was to seek out commercial opportunities, prepare
tenders including all costings, organising teams and project management. He was successful in
procuring and managing projects locally and overseas.

“I was very fortunate to have a good level of education and have been able to take on ad hoc
casual work. My friends have stuck by me through good times and tough ones.”

David now lives in his own home with carers providing both full-time medical and lifestyle
support. With his own vehicle and personalised office and equipment, David has regained much
of the former independence he previously enjoyed.

“Life goes on! I have come to terms with my injury and its consequences and have developed
coping skills that allow me to go on. Yet there are still some things I really miss – playing sport,
flicking through the pages of a favourite book, cleaning my own teeth. The list does go on. The
hardest thing is you never get to hug your kids again.”

Baptised in September 1980, David then served a full-time mission to England Manchester
(1982-3) and he currently serves as Sunday School President. He has two children – son Llon
who is currently serving in the Sydney North Mission, and daughter Beth who recently graduated
from University.

David’s philosophy is “If you lose your dreams, you die” and he has an inspiring motto that
stands as both an irony and challenge to his circumstances - “There is no mountain too high”.

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