Wheel­chair sports ad­vo­cate hon­oured

Pilbara News - - News - Ali­cia Per­era

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.

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