How I recovered after becoming a quadriplegic at 18

By Benjamin Kende, 4 August 2016 , Comments

In 2010 my life changed forever. I was rendered a wheelchair bound quadriplegic after a freak accident I had whilst representing Hong Kong at the under-20 Asian Rugby Championships in Thailand. Clearly this was the most challenging period of my life. I was forced to endure relentless physical and mental battles but I persevered.

Whether I like it or not, I feel that I am a better person for it; far more resilient and able to appreciate even the most mundane silver lining. Since the injury I am immensely proud to have established The Ben Kende Foundation. This has proven to be one of the most positive achievements to come as a direct result of my injury.

From its modest beginnings in helping me get my life back on track, the Foundation now supports a range of activities from funding physical therapy for those in need, to supplying spinal boards to remote rugby clubs in Fiji. Most recently the Foundation is seeking to fund a significant research project in the USA and potentially a pilot study in Australia.

Ben and his family before the accident

Perhaps the most important ‘lesson’ that my injury has taught me, is that the world is not going to accommodate my every need. It is crucial to live life in a wheelchair with some degree of humility and patience, without sacrificing one’s integrity. This is certainly how I try to live my life.

When presented with the patronising approach many have towards people in a wheelchair, I have found it is best to simply be yourself. To let your personality and intellect rebut any ideas they may have of how people with disability are supposed to behave.

It is imperative that you do not let any physical impairment hold you back from achieving your dreams. I am a very big believer in giving it a go. As the age old saying goes – if you never try, you’ll never succeed.

Ben in hospital after his accident

Ultimately, it is this approach that has led to me pursuing a career in law. I knew once I started the degree that I had found something that truly interested me, that I wanted to spend the rest of my life doing.

It had been a real struggle to fund the degree, even with the aid of HECS. The SpineCare Foundation’s Gregory and Delores Farrell Scholarship has made a world of a difference for both me and my family. For that, I am immensely grateful and would like to extend a massive thank you to the people at Northcott.

 

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