Vote for Karni by Sunday for Pride of Australia award
KARNI Liddell says the support of the Rockhampton community helped her achieve her Paralympic dream.
She is calling for that support again as she vies for the 2014 Pride of Australia People's Choice medal.
"I wouldn't have achieved what I did in swimming without the help of the people of Rockhampton," she said this week. "I'm hoping they will get behind me again now."
Karni won the Queensland Pride of Australia Medal for Courage. She is now in the running for the people's choice award, the winner of which receives $10,000 for their chosen charity.
Voting closes on Sunday, November 2. Go to http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/pride-of-australia/vote.
Karni was born with spinal muscular atrophy. Her parents were told she would not walk or live past her teenage years.
"Mum and dad were told that exercise would make the condition worse. I was lucky that they decided I should try it," she said.
"I walked at age three and still walk today at 35, only using a wheelchair for long distances."
Karni tried swimming. What she found in the waters of the Rockhampton pool was empowerment.
"I won a blue ribbon event at the age of eight in a disabled swimming competition," she remembers. "As the only disabled kid at school, I was used to coming last, but all of a sudden I was winning."
Karni broke her first world record at the age of 14 and went on to represent Australia at the Paralympic Games in 1996 and 2000.
"I didn't feel disabled from the moment I entered the gates at the Southside Pool until I left each morning and every night.
"I felt strong, talented and liked. It is incredibly important for children with disabilities to find something they are good at."