Yes, Survive I Did...
by Judith Geppert

Over the last 53 years I have been asked many times, "how do you cope with having cerebral palsy?

My reply is, "So what?  I was born with it.  I do not know another way of life and it is better to accept the life I have, than to dwell on what could have been".

My life started out on pretty rocky ground.  Nobody, not even my parent's, held much hope when told my prognosis would probably be about ten years.

But survive I did...

I learnt to speak at age eight.  Having very limited control over my limbs, I wear a 'headpointer' to operate a computer and for mobility I use an electric wheelchair.

But what I do have, that is not affected, is my intelligence and I endeavour to make the most of it.  I have been constantly told that with the degree of disability I have, "you shouldn't do this, or you cannot possibly do that".  But, these words have never, and will never, be in my vocabulary.

The Spastic Centre employs me; my current position is as a desktop publisher.  Also, a motivational speaker and I collaborate regularly with Government bodies on accessibility issues.

I live on the Northern Beaches in Sydney, in a supportive accommodation hostel, where I share a room with two cats and a dog.  During the week I work, but come the weekends, I enjoy a very social life. 

Every second Saturday I am a solo sailor at Manly with Sailability.  Once I entered the two-day National Championships held in Canberra. The Governor General of Australia, awarded me the Silver Medal!

Other accomplishments have included being a 2000 Olympic and Paralympics torchbearer, international typewriter artist, tandem skydiver and hot air balloonist.  I was the first person with a severe disability to do the Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb.

I hope to continue with Sailability Manly for many years to come, enjoying the fun and friendships that I have encountered along the way, not only with sailors with disabilities, but also with the numerous volunteers. Without their support and encouragement I would be sitting on land, in my wheelchair thinking about what I would like to be doing, rather than participating and knowing what I can do.