Wheelchair sports advocate honoured
A Karratha-born wheelchair basketballer who founded a program that helps indigenous Australians living with disability has been named a finalist for the 2017 WA Young Australian of the Year Award.
Ryan Morich has been named as one of only four finalists for the prestigious State award for his work as founder of Adelaide wheelchair basketball team, the Red Dust Heelers’ Wheeling and Healing Program.
Players empower and train indigenous people with disabilities and promote reconciliation through basketball.
The program often runs trips to regional WA including the Pilbara. The other WA Young Australian category finalists, announced late last month, are social innovator Abdullahi Alim, Formula One driver Daniel Ricciardo and performer and social activist Troye Sivan.
Morich lost his leg from below his knee after being diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer at age 12, but has gone on to compete in wheelchair basketball at a national level, including as captain of the Red Dust Heelers. He was also awarded a US university sports scholarship.
National Australia Day Council chief executive Chris Kirby said the WA finalists were among 131 outstanding Australians nominated for the awards at a State and Territory level.
“The Australian of the Year Awards allow us to recognise and celebrate the achievements of outstanding Australians — people from all walks of life making extraordinary contributions to our society,” he said.
“The Western Australia Award finalists are role models in their respective fields and inspirational leaders in our communities.
“They lead by example, they seek to make a difference and they forge a path for others to benefit in the future.”
The WA will be announced at a presentation at Government House in Perth on Sunday, November 20. All State and Territory winners will then be eligible for the national Australian of the Year Awards early next year.