By Kyra Gillespie
Bailey Jankovic from Berwick is not your average 14-year-old. Already, he has volunteered for the Royal Children’s Hospital, been the face of the Good Friday Appeal, worked with Variety Australia, the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, and so much more.
Despite living with cerebral palsy, Bailey is unstoppable.
Bailey has contributed immensely to the community as a disability advocate, and is now asking the community to help him a little in return: Bailey needs a wheelchair for basketball.
The problem is, the chair is going to cost a whopping $4650, an amount that is out of reach for Bailey and his family. So he has started up his own ‘I Give A Buck’ campaign to assist with the costs, accepting any donations big or small.
Bailey only started playing wheelchair basketball a couple of months ago, and he already has big aspirations with his sights set on state tryouts at the end of the year, then nationals, and eventually the Paralympics.
“I made it to under-15s in traditional basketball, but everyone was too fast for me. So I tried out wheelchair basketball and I love it.”
“Traditional basketball is all about the individual, whereas in wheelchair basketball they all love you. If you miss a shot the other team will give it back, they won’t block you, and when you score everyone gives you a high five. It’s just so different.”
At the moment, Bailey loans a wheelchair from the Kilsyth stadium, but the problem is that the system is first in, best dressed.
“If you’re a bit late, you end up with one that is too big or too low, and often sweaty from the last person who used it. It’s really hard to turn properly when the chair is too big or too wide. Having my own one would solve everything.”
Talking about a new wheelchair, Bailey is animated and excited.
“They would measure it all up for me and it would only take about three months to arrive!”
So much of Bailey’s life has consisted of hours upon hours of external therapy to keep his muscles strong, but since starting basketball he is already noticing the difference it has on his body.
“After my first game, I was stuffed. I realised that if I want to reach my goals I have to start training and building up my muscles.”
Bailey has been practising wheeling himself up and down the road in front of his house to get him ready for the court, and is already noticing an improvement in his speed and agility in the game.
When he grows up, Bailey hopes to manage a sports team and a sports store, which will sell things for traditional sport but will also have a section for wheelchair sports too – such as tennis and basketball – complete with specialised rackets, bikes and chairs.
If you want to make a tax-deductible donation, Eden Rise Pharmasave are taking donations, or head over to the ‘I Give a Buck’ website or call 5442 7414 to help our future Paralympian.