Triple Paralympian Marayke Jonkers and her foundation Sporting Dreams have awarded their 100th grant for Queensland athletes with a disability at a gala presentation event on the Sunshine Coast.
18-year-old alpine skier and aspiring Winter Paralympian Jordan Carroll was the recipient of the 100th grant, receiving his award from Marayke Jonkers, Sunshine Coast Regional Councillor Jason O’Pray and Sporting Dreams’ very first grant recipient Paralympian Rachel Dodds.
Jonkers said she was thrilled to present the award to a determined athlete like Carroll.
“I couldn’t be prouder of the achievements of Jordan Carroll. Despite losing his vision to cancer only one year ago, Jason has shown he has the potential to become Queensland’s first Winter Paralympian, having been invited to train with the National Paralympic team,” she said.
At the age of 11, Carroll had a stroke, leaving him unable to speak for three months. After a year of investigation, he was told he had a rare form of brain cancer which would eventually lead him to become blind.
After being invited to development camps by Disabled WinterSport Australia and Camp Quality, Carroll is back on the slopes and now aspires to represent Australia at the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Paralympic Games. Within a year of finishing his cancer treatment, he was invited to train with the Australian Paralympic squad.
Speaking at the award presentation, Carroll said “living in Queensland without snow is a challenge – a home grown version of Cool Runnings.”
A total of 21 rising stars and established athletes from across Queensland were awarded individual grants of up to $500 as part of the 2014 funding allocation. Athletes can use the funding for expenses such as sports equipment, competition fees and travel costs.
Jonkers says the evening was an incredible success, with all 100 past grant recipients welcomed back to share in the festivities.
“The highlight for me was watching our first grant recipient Rachel Dodd present the 100th award and speak about how far she has come from dreaming of being a Paralympian to becoming a world champion,” Jonkers said.
Jonkers established Sporting Dreams in 2008 with a $10,000 grant she received as winner of a national women’s magazine award. She said she was proud of having supported so many athletes with a disability since then.
“Becoming a Paralympian has changed my life and I want to ensure every athlete has the same opportunity to experience the benefits I have had through sport, which is why I started Sporting Dreams,” Jonkers said.
“Athletes with a disability train just as hard as other athletes, but can face additional expenses. A regular push bike costs $100, whereas a hand-cycle can cost up to $7,000. Athletes with a disability are also great role models, encouraging all Queenslanders to live a fit and healthy lifestyle,” she said.
Following a car accident as a child which left her paraplegic, Jonkers was told she would never walk. With encouragement from her mother, Jonkers learnt to swim and has gone on to break more than 70 Australian records. She also made history becoming Australia’s first ever female Paratriathlete and medallist at the 2010 ITU world Triathlon Championships in Budapest. Forced to retire from competitive sport due to an injurt in 2011, Jonkers now aims to help the next generation of athletes through Sporting Dreams.
Sporting Dreams is administered by Sporting Wheelies and Disabled Association. The foundation depends on fundraising and corporate support to continue its work in supporting athletes with disabilities.
To find out more about Sporting Dreams, visit sportingdreams.org.au
2014 Sporting Dreams Grant recipients
Introductory Grants ($250 for beginner athletes or athletes in their first year of competition)
Blake Anderson (cross country) – Mt Kilcoy
Erin Baker (kayaking) – Mermaid Waters
Jordan Carroll (alpine skiing) – East Brisbane
Katja Dedekind (goalball) – Kenmore
Alex Dwyer (athletics) – Beaudesert
Mathew Eaton (goalball) – Earlville
Nathan Ford (boccia) – Mitchelton
Olga Itsenko-Mahler (goalball) – Edge Hill
Travis Larkin (wheelchair basketball) – Toowoomba
Kirsten Lindemann (boccia ) – Wamuran
Larry Marshall (goalball) – Edge Hill
Lakeisha Patterson (swimming) – Caboolture
Steve Rabbett (goalball) – Cairns
Development Grants ($500 for established athletes)
Georgia Bishop-Cash (wheelchair basketball) – Greenslopes
Robert Christie (Paralympic football) – Karana Downs
Debra McGarry (lawn bowls) – Mount Barney
Josh Nicholson (wheelchair basketball/wheelchair rugby) – Slade Point
Noah Robinson (swimming) – Sorrento
Matthew Stark (swimming) – Eatons Hill
Kelly Warren (athletics) – Albany Creek
Brendan Young (goalball) – Grandchester
By Sporting Dreams
Photo with thanks to Marion Jonkers Photography