This is a great story about Adam , the child of our friends Ray and Ruth Kellerman. Couldn’t be prouder.
I was a pretty sporty kid when I was younger. I played any sport under the sun. Loved soccer, loved ice hockey. When I was diagnosed I had no appreciation of how my life would change.
I went through chemo and multiple surgeries. They removed my hip, irradiated it, put it back in with a partial hip replacement and I was told I’d never play soccer again. After the surgery, I had 6 weeks bed rest. It was hard to stomach, coming to terms with what had happened and what was still to come. Following the surgery I contracted an infection which they treated but it returned after the ninth of the ten planned chemo sessions and spent the next two years on IV antibiotics. I had another 19 operations, which ended in the complete removal of my right hip, this leaves my right leg 10cm shorter than my left. I feel very lucky that I can still walk. I use a cane mostly and for longer distances I use a wheelchair. It was a really hard time for my family as well, being one of 4 brothers with the youngest only 6 months old when I was diagnosed. It meant mum was going from home to hospital and dad from work to hospital and sometimes home. Grandma was a life saver and the whole community helped me and my family. For 3 years, from Year 8 – Year 10 I was in and out of hospital and missed about 2 years of schooling. I was totally depressed and thought my future was doomed.
Towards the end of 2006, I was sitting watching TV and playing computer games (my social life was extremely limited while I was sick) when my parents asked me if I wanted to try out wheelchair sport. Up until that point, I had denied anything that they suggested… but this one was different. I went to a ‘Wheelchair Sport NSW Come and Try’ day. I really wasn’t interested in wheelchair basketball and convinced my dad it was time to go. Just as we were about to leave, one of ‘the organisers’ came over and encouraged me to try tennis. I don’t know why that struck a chord, but I definitely wanted to give it a try. ‘The organiser’ that had approached me was actually Mick Connell; previously #3 in the world in wheelchair tennis. When I jumped in the tennis wheelchair that day, it was the first bit of exercise I had done in over 3 years. I absolutely loved it. I wasn’t great at it; my backhand was non-existent and I couldn’t move the chair to save my life, but being out there in the sun and getting my heart racing… I felt alive. It changed the course of my life. I had no idea what was possible, I just knew I wanted to play.
After 5 months of training my coach suggested that I attend a junior camp in Adelaide. It was an amazing experience meeting the other athletes. I got to see that there were other teenagers with similar challenges, but very different life experiences and I loved watching them play. I remember vividly at the Junior Camp, on the last day, we had a play off. I had no idea we were playing for anything in particular. A week later, the national coach called me and told me I’d been selected for the Australia Junior team to go to Poland and Sweden to complete. I was overwhelmed, so excited and it was an incredible moment in my life. I was 16. When I went to World Team Cup I got to see the best players in the world and I told myself that I wanted to be the best. Since then I have dedicated myself to becoming the best tennis player I can be.