Koen Jansens

Gold and silver medal-winning Paralympian, Koen Jansens was born with spina bifida, but has refused to let his condition dictate his lifestyle.

“Like most youngsters, I was obsessed with football and it was difficult not being able to run around with my mates,” he said. “I found an outlet in wheelchair basketball, and playing it at an elite level has taken me to places I never thought I’d go.”

Koen was a member of the Dutch men’s wheelchair basketball national squad, competing at four Paralympic Games from 1992 to 2004, including Barcelona, Spain (1992 – gold); Atlanta, USA (1996); Sydney, Australia (2000 – silver); and Athens, Greece (2004).

He is married to Manly-born Australian Paralympian Donna Ritchie, who was part of the silver medal-winning Australian women’s wheelchair basketball team at the 2000 Sydney Paralympics. They have a son and a daughter. Koen retired from international basketball about 15 years ago to shift focus on a corporate career in Software Sales building and leading sales teams across the Asia Pacific region.

Koen is currently a board member of WBA (Wheelchair Basketball Australia), which is a newly created company responsible for running the National Men’s and Women’s Leagues, as well as the President of the Manly Wheel Eagles Basketball Team and an inspiration to many young and aspiring players.

“You can look at life two ways: you can get upset with the cards you are dealt or you can go out and live life to the fullest.

We chose the latter and couldn’t be happier, we have two wonderful children and busy lives.
I am so excited by the work that the Sargood Foundation is doing to help others with spinal cord injury to get the most out of life, it really resonates with my own personal philosophy and I look forward to working with the Foundation to create new futures and opportunities for those living with SCI.”

Sam and Jenny Bailey

Sam Bailey is a beef cattle farmer, ultralight pilot, husband, professional public speaker and best-selling author. He has achieved all of those from a wheelchair following a C6/C7 spinal cord injury at the age of 19.

From a childhood growing up in the Australian bush to a car accident in the outback that turned his life upside down and its aftermath, his story epitomises the great Australian spirit of ‘having a go’.

He has used that spirit to beat the odds to fulfill his life-long dream to be a farmer, learning to ride a four-wheel bike; devising a hoist to get into farm machinery and ultimately learning to fly an ultralight.

Sam then found his soul mate in former Tamworth-based ABC radio Rural Reporter, Jenny Black – who he proposed to “live” on regional radio. They went on to appear on ABC TV’s “Australian Story”, become public speakers and co-write their best seller “Head Over Heels”.

Today they live and work together on their beef cattle property in North West NSW, in between traveling the country telling their story and giving inspiration to others. Sam is also working towards becoming the first quadriplegic in the world to fly a helicopter.

They are thrilled to become Ambassadors for the Sargood Foundation and can’t wait to support our work to make a positive and lasting difference to people who suffer traumatic spinal cord injuries and their families.

“I’ll never forget how terrified I was when I first came home from the spinal unit. It’s the mental anguish you’re not prepared for. I was no longer ‘Sam the Gladiator’. It was a massive readjustment, not just for me but for the whole family.

“I wonder how things would have been different for me and my parents if Sargood was around back then….a place that breaks the ice where everyone can relax and reconnect. Thank goodness it is here now.

“I take my hat off to the people who are making Sargood happen and Jenny and I are very proud to be doing what we can to help.”

Kevin Hitchcock

Kevin is a writer and journalist with more than 40 years’ experience spanning newspapers, radio and television.

As reporter for the Ten Network he covered the Azaria Chamberlain case from the first inquest through to the trial. Concerned by the guilty verdict he tracked down and interviewed key witnesses who supported Lindy’s version of events. His subsequent award-winning documentary, ‘Azaria: A Question of Innocence’, prompted the royal commission which eventually proved the couple’s innocence.

Kevin’s rough and tumble rugby days were spent playing alongside his life-long friend and former Wallaby coach, Rod Macqueen, who is now a Director and Vice Patron of the Sargood Foundation.

His fitness and determination would once again be called on when, in 1991, he broke his neck diving into the Hawkesbury River while playing with his children. From that moment onwards his life would change forever.

Kevin tackled a rigorous rehabilitation program of physical and mental exercises. With the help of a long-time friend and osteopath he used a unique method to reconnect his mind to non-functioning nerves and muscles. An inspirational story that was covered by Channel Nine’s flagship program 60 Minutes. He later documented his battle against the odds in his biography, ‘Walk With Me’.

We are extremely grateful for the dedication and contribution Kevin made so early in the development of Sargood on Collaroy.

James Gribble

James personifies what Sargood stands for: he is passionate, positive and extremely good fun. In 2008, Sydney boy James was in Africa waiting to go Tiger fishing on the mighty Zambezi River when he started to feel faint. He was dehydrated from a run he’d been on earlier that day and passed out whilst sitting on a stool, falling backward onto hard sand.

The result of this seemingly innocuous occurrence was catastrophic. The impact of the fall severely bruised his spinal cord and broke his C4 and C5 vertebrae, leaving him with voluntary movement only from his shoulders up. Due to the remoteness and inaccessibility of the location, it was 30 hours before James reached fully qualified medical care. This delay worsened his condition by causing fluid to collect in his lungs, leading to respiratory complications. Prior to his injury, James was a very handy golfer with a handicap of four.

On the evening of his accident and the subsequent evenings, James would pick his favourite course and play it in his mind, shot by shot, hole by hole. This was a technique that calmed him down, whilst reinforcing just how important the game was to him. A few years on, James founded Empower Golf, which facilitates and promotes golf for less able Australians. James is an advocate for golf to be included in the Paralympic Games and knowing James, we’re pretty sure he’ll make it happen.

Empower Golf recently partnered with The Sargood Foundation to bring a Paragolfer, a German designed cart that provides people with Quadriplegia and Paraplegia the opportunity to play golf again, to Long Reef Golf Club, which is great news for Sargood on Collaroy guests and the less-abled population. James brings a wonderful positive can-do energy to Sargood. He’s a team player with not only endless enthusiasm, but also a quick wit and cheeky sense of humour.

The Sargood Foundation presents a unique opportunity for spinal injured individuals and their families to benefit from collaboration and communication in a relaxed, supported and interactive setting

Heidi Haydon

In December 2009, Heidi was out riding her motorbike when she decided to go the less travelled route to the shops to pick up a few things. Just a few streets from home Heidi was t-boned by a ute that failed to give way at a roundabout.

The crash left Heidi a T4 paraplegic, paralysed from the chest down. Heidi spent seven months in spinal rehabilitation in hospital, the last month was to simply wait for her house to be modified.

Heidi and her mother Jenni worked incredibly hard for 18 months trying to find Heidi’s way back to independence. They both believed that it was a long life for Heidi to live with her mum so they went about learning everything they could so Heidi could move out. It took months for Heidi to be able to go out in public feeling so conscious of people staring at her, wondering what had happened – after a while she regained the courage and self-esteem to understand that it didn’t matter what people think and this injury was about adjusting to a new lifestyle.

It was a long, hard and emotional 18 months of trying to gather all there was to know about living with spinal cord injury. Since then she has travelled with her boyfriend across Europe and to the USA, rediscovered her love of riding a modified trike and been able to discover the joy in doing many of the activities that she took pleasure from before her injury.

Heidi believes that Sargood gives guests the freedom to be the person that they were before acquiring their spinal cord injury despite the challenges that pop up along the way. The staff specifically trained to work with people living with SCI, guests and the community in and around Sargood are so welcoming and accepting.
Heidi has been an active and engaged Ambassador for the Sargood Foundation since 2015, with a specific interest in and support of our emergency funding program.

The Sargood Foundation plays such an important role for people with a spinal injury. They know the community like the back of their hand and have tirelessly fought to make this dream come true.

Nick Taylor

A native of South Africa, Nick grew up in a sports obsessed family of four siblings. Although he enjoyed a wide range of sporting pursuits, his true passion was basketball, in which he represented South Africa from a young age.

In 1998, just after he finished high school, Nick was involved in a serious car accident that left him paralysed from the waist down. At the time, Nick was leading his team in the South African National Basketball Championship and despite his absence from the grand final, his team would go on to win the national title in overtime. They dedicated the win to their fallen captain, who would also be named the Most Valuable Player of the tournament.

After many months of hospitals and rehab, Nick learnt to cope with the physical challenges of his new life as a paraplegic. With a great deal of encouragement from family and friends, Nick decided to undertake a Bachelor of Business Science in Cape Town, including spending a year on a wheelchair basketball scholarship at the University of Texas.

Going from strength to strength, Nick then secured a role with a leading international management-consulting firm in Johannesburg and got back to representing South Africa, playing wheelchair basketball in both the World Championships and the Paralympics.

In 2006 Nick immigrated to Australia to build a brighter future for himself in Sydney. He became an Australian citizen and sat out of international competition in wheelchair basketball for three years so he could switch his nationality in order to represent Australia. He did so at the highest level by playing in the London Paralympics in 2012, winning a silver medal and two years later in Korea, he and his team would be crowned World Champions!

Nick’s life is incredibly busy juggling a demanding corporate career, training and being a husband and dad to wife Sonia and sons Mitchell and Bailey.

Nick is the perfect fit for Sargood as he is extremely passionate about helping people with spinal cord injuries regain their independence and about changing the attitudes often displayed by people in the wider community towards this group of people.

The Sargood Foundation is honoured that a positive, motivated and successful man such as Nick is working with us to achieve our mutual goals.