You may have heard of disabled surfers before, such as Christian Otter Bailey and Jesse Billauer, but if you’re not familiar with the disability scene in Australia, chances are you’ve never heard of Barney Miller, a quadriplegic surfer who’s been feverishly raising money for spinal cord injury research since his injury.
What’s even more exciting is that Barney’s fundraising has recently gotten a huge boost thanks to an exciting new partnership Barney has signed on for with Red Bull, who’s decided to take on his cause by naming his fundraising goals the main beneficiary of a brand new worldwide marathon.
Also a fiance to one of Australia’s most well-known singer songwriters, read on for the story of Barney Miller.
Why he’s fearless
Growing up in the mid-north coast of New South Wales, Barney Miller was always in the water. A lifelong surfer who had a promising career before him, everything changed when Barney was in a car accident at 19 years old, breaking his neck from the C3 – C6 level (and missing death by a hair).
When he was initially injured, he was ventilator dependent and his doctors didn’t give him any hope for any return. But Barney, being who he is, refused to accept that as his reality, and worked his butt off in rehab not only getting off the ventilator but becoming a manual wheelchair-user.
After rehab, Barney went home and put the notion for the time being of getting better behind him, and needed to raise money for everything he needed. He and a friend decided to start the Barney Miller Classic, an annual surfing tournament where all the proceeds now go straight to spinal cord injury research.
In 2009 however, Barney’s entire mind-view of what was possible changed when he heard about Project Walk, the repetitive motion-based rehab center, and he’s been going since, spitting his time between Carlsbad, California and Australia (overall he’s spent more than two years at Project Walk).
Since attending Project Walk, he’s been able to take a step unassisted with the walker and can now stand with minimal assistance and his ultimate goal – to be able to walk down the aisle when he gets married.
Barney’s engaged to Kate Southwell aka “Kada,” an Aussie singer-songwriter with great beauty and a great voice. When the two first met in 2007, Barney said he wouldn’t propose till he could get down on one knee, and that is what he did in 2012. Their love story is amazing, and the two are set to be married in April 2015.
In the last year, Barney’s story has hit the worldwide level thanks to Red Bull, who decided to make his cause – raising money for spinal cord injury research – the official cause of the first annual Wings for Life run, a worldwide run taking place on May 4, 2014 in 35 different countries. This will hopefully raise millions. Learn more about Wings for Life
His story is also set to be documented in the upcoming film, “No Means Go,” which is also Barney’s personal motto. Spearheaded by Trinity films, a small film company started by NYU film students, it’s a peek into Barney’s everyday life and drive to get better. Watch the promo for No Means Go (release date is April 2015)
Barney’s story is one every newly injured person should hear. His strength and perseverance all these years to still get better, and to actually do so, is amazingly hopeful, and shows that with a little bit of toughness you too can reach for your dreams.
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