Let Me Paint The Scene
Let me paint the scene…
Me, a footy loving T-4 complete paraplegic of 20 years; Bill, Cerebral Palsy since birth.
Ten years ago, the boss at AQA Qualcare who knew I loved the footy, asked if I wanted to take a guy to the football on a voluntary basis. I said I’d take it on if it was a paid gig, but was told that Bill didn’t have any funding. A month or so went by when Qualcare came back and told me that a legacy group had agreed to pay for 6 hours per month of recreational funding for Bill - I couldn’t back down now, so I acquired a part time job to take Bill to the footy.
It sounds like a dream job but believe me we have had a few dramas over the years. Then again, being in a chair myself, you build resilience and just deal with the dramas as they unfold. Bill is quite smart and gets along pretty well on his own; he goes to the Carlton day-games alone, and I take him to the night or twilight games.
"It sounds like a dream job, but believe me, we've had a few dramas over the years.."
"When I think back.. I feel happy and proud that I decided to help Bill enjoy doing something he loves.."
We have had our fair share of challenges that we have overcome together. One night, Bill had a puncture in his scooter tyre on our way to Etihad Stadium, so I rang RACV and they met us at a Hungry Jacks nearby and fixed the puncture then and there. There have been countless times when the trains have been down and we have had to catch buses instead.
One incident that I remember vividly is when Bill fell out of his scooter, cracking his head hard on the footpath outside Richmond Station. An ambulance had to be called to take Bill to the Alfred hospital. I arranged for his scooter to be put in storage, and took his personal belongings back to his house, telling the people who look after him there about what had happened. When I think back on the time I was first asked to take on the role, I feel happy and proud that I decided to help Bill enjoy doing something he loves, and how we have faced and overcome so many challenges together.
Over the years we have seen Carlton go from a power to a rebuilding Football Club - something that upsets Bill. He gets a little upset every time his beloved Blues get flogged! I find it quite amusing when he tries to let the umpires have a piece of his mind - he is all huff and no puff! Bill lives in Croydon, about a twenty minute push from Croydon station. I drive up to meet him at his shared accommodation, and off we go. Over the years you see some of the same people, and every now and then someone will ask if we are related because we are always together, and I say yes, we are brothers, and I sleep in the top bunk! Billy just smiles.
I believe early on in our relationship, Bill must have told his brother Paul (who is a very well-off professional person) that a paraplegic in a wheelchair was going to be his support worker, so Paul made an effort to meet me, because when you think about it - how could a man, in a wheelchair, look after another man, who users a scooter?! Now Paul and Bill’s sister have total trust in me.
"People ask if we're related, and I say yes, we're brothers.."
The highlight of being a support worker has undoubtedly been going to last years’ Grand Final (2017). I asked Bill, if Richmond (the team I support) made the Grand Final would he want to go? He said yes, because he is an AFL gold member, and I knew we would get tickets. Well they did, and come Grand Final day, we were front and center at the G. We got to watch Dusty Martin and my beloved Tigers take out the Flag - one of the best days of my life!