On April 29th 1989 whilst playing Australian Rules football Gary suffered a broken neck in an on field incident leaving him a quadriplegic. Prior to his accident, Gary worked as a nightclub disc jockey for 7 years, sang in a band and was also in Sales and Marketing.
Gary is also an accomplished songwriter and he has written and recorded songs for major sporting events and provided voice-overs for local community radio. Since his accident, he has become involved in many and varied interests within the community. He slowly picked up his life and set up a recording studio at his home where he’s written and recorded many songs and has worked with many young people.
Gary then set about educating thousands of primary and secondary students about spinal cord injury, life in a wheelchair and the dangers of diving into shallow water and other hazards. He has also spoken to many other people in varied community groups about overcoming hurdles, coping with adversity and self-motivation. His audiences have ranged from University’s, AFL Clubs, local football clubs, Lions and Rotary Clubs, press conferences, as well as scientific forums.
As an Honorary Director of Spinal Cure Australia in Victoria since 2000, Gary’s work involves creating public awareness, gaining publicity and lobbying the State and Federal Governments, corporate sector and general public. In May 2003 Gary held a fundraiser, Celebrity Shirts for Spinal Cord Research and raised $90,000. For his efforts, Gary received a Tattersalls Award in March 2004 for enterprise and achievement having demonstrated persistence and determination above the norm, resulting in a further donation of $15,000 to SpinalCure. In 2004 Gary successfully lobbied the Victorian State Government resulting in $63 million being invested into neuroscience research in Victoria and the birth of the Victorian Neurotrauma Initiative (VNI), which funded scientific projects into spinal cord and acquired brain injury research. Through an application to the AFL Players Association in 2008 in conjunction with a nomination from North Melbourne legend Glenn Archer, Gary was presented with a grant of $10,000 towards SpinalCure.
Gary continues to campaign governments as they change throughout the years to convince the powers that be to continue to fund spinal cord research in the hope of finding a cure for spinal cord injury to better the lives of all the injured people both now and in the future and he has been doggedly working towards being part of that solution.