Usually our ambassadors are busy fighting it out on the sports field, reporting breaking news, working in the community or making media appearances, but they all feel so strongly about the Big Day Off and supporting people with spinal cord injury that they’ve taken time out of their busy schedules to support the Big Day Off 2017!
Alex is a former NRL player, having played for the Newcastle Knights and the St George Illawarra Dragons. During a match in 2014, Alex sustained a spinal cord injury, leaving him paralysed from the chest down. Alex now works for the Newcastle Knights, is studying to become a teacher, and is planning a wedding with his fiancé Teigan.
Alex brings his experience of living with a spinal cord injury to the Big Day Off, “it’s a great initiative and it’s easy for businesses to get involved. When I suffered a spinal cord injury, my life fundamentally changed. Having the right support structure around me was, and continues to be, vital to my ongoing recovery. But this all comes at a cost, and it’s initiatives like the Big Day Off that help people with this support, while working towards a cure at the same time.”
Brett Stevenson is a businessman and a board member of Spinal Cord Injuries Australia. After a long career in the finance industry, Brett set up his own business AgRisk Management, which runs Market Check, to educate farmers on how to manage commodity price risk. During a family holiday Brett became quadriplegic when he dived into the water and broke his neck. Since his injury, Brett’s wife Jo has gotten more involved with the business, and in 2014 they received the Australian Small Business Champion Award for Agribusiness.
“People with spinal cord injury face many barriers, particularly in areas like employment, but businesses can become part of the solution and help break down those barriers by registering for the Big Day Off. It’s a fun and easy way to fundraise and make a real difference in improving the lives of people with spinal cord injury. I encourage you to register your business today,” says Brett.
Nathan is a former NRL player, with an impressive career that saw him captain the Parramatta Eels, represent NSW in State of Origin and play for Australia. These days he’s busy on Fox’s Monday Nights with Matty Johns and Friday Night Footy, and taking care of his four kids. In his spare time he’s a keen indoor cricketer.
Nathan is supporting the big day off because “15,000 people around Australia live with spinal cord injury, a cause that recently became more personal for me when a close friend sustained an SCI. While he’s fighting to get as much movement back as he can, I’m trying to raise vital funds to support all Aussies with this life-altering disability. I urge everyone to register their business of nominate their boss to take part in the Big Day Off. It’s easy, fun, and you might just win a paid day off work!”
Emily has recently completed a Graduate Diploma of Psychology and is currently studying a Masters of Social Work at the University of Sydney and is also a Peer and Social Supports Coodinator at Spinal Cord Injuries Australia (SCIA).
In 2012, at 22, she sustained C5 quadriplegia whilst snowboarding in Vermont, USA and since her own rehabilitation, she’s been offering non-clinical emotional support and advice for people who are in rehabilitation from sustaining a spinal cord injury and their families at a time of huge transition.
“What active work you had before doesn’t necessarily have to be eliminated, it will just be different. You shouldn’t be limited by what you did in your earlier life. There is so much potential. I think it comes from us, as individuals, to start making it the norm.”
As a journalist and presenter with TEN Eyewitness News First At Five, Sandra is one of the most recognisable and respected faces on Australian television. Off camera, Sandra is a news leader on Twitter and Instagram, with her prolific news tweets providing hundreds of thousands of Australians with breaking news and information every day. Sandra is also a passionate sports fan and long-standing support of spinal cord injury research in Australia.
On the Big Day Off Sandra says, “Every day an Australian sustains a spinal cord injury and is told they may never walk again. Imagine being that person, their husband, wife, child or friend, and the devastating impact that would have on you and your plans for the future. Thankfully you can do something to support people with SCI by registering your business of nominating your boss today for the Big Day Off. All funds raised will support people living day-to-day with SCI, as well as help find a cure!”
Will is the Director of Sales Australia for DePuy Synthes Spine & Neuro. His commercial and operational experience spans more than 30 countries, and he has managed more than 2,500 employees over the past 17 years. Will is a keen advocate for education, skills and knowledge development, and achieving results through the realization of potential in people.
“The Big Day Off is a fun and easy way to support people with spinal cord injuries. It is a real team effort within the workplace. It epitomises the values that the DePuy Synthes Spine & Neuro team are proud to represent, working with our employees within the community to help improve people’s lives,” says Will.
Mike is a founding employee of Uber in Australasia, currently serving as Head of Operations for Uber in Australia and New Zealand. Mike has been instrumental in the growth of Uber in Australia from it’s launch in October 2012 to a platform used regularly by over 55,000 driver partners and 2 million riders.
Prior to joining Uber, Mike played a key role in Bell Potter Securities’ Corporate Finance team and is passionate about growing start-ups, innovation and entrepreneurship.
Sadly, road accidents are a leading cause of spinal cord injuries and young people are disproportionately affected. I am proud to be supporting the Big Day Off to help ensure that these young people and all others who sustain a spinal cord injury receive the best possible care. Not only does it support a fantastic cause, but it’s a great concept. At Uber, our employees work very hard and this is a great way to promote flexibility and balance which is extremely important to integrate into the workplace.
For more than 25 years Jane has built a career based on technology and disruption working for big businesses like Pandora Internet Radio Australia & New Zealand, Microsoft, Vodafone and Fairfax in Australia and internationally. She has had roles spanning technical support and systems engineering, through to sales, marketing, channel management, CEO and MD.
In the five years at Pandora Internet Radio, the business has grown to 60 staff over three locations, and five million registered users.
She also works as a mentor, focusing on female led startups through the accelerator programs SheStarts (Blue Chilli) and Slingshot. Jane is also an ambassador for the Big Day Off: “What drew me initially to Big Day Off was that it was a really clever idea – a low cost of entry, where all parties have a chance to win. All the evidence in recent years around engaging employees is the growing need for organisations to be able to demonstrate a broader contribution to their communities and the “greater good”, and this in turn helps aligns them more closely to your own company mission. It doesn’t hurt that it all happens online, making it simple to get involved. Join me in supporting this campaign, register your business of nominate your workplace today,” says Jane.
Jack is a midfielder for the AFL team St Kilda. Jack supports the Big Day Off because, “most people who sustain a spinal cord injury are aged 15 – 24, young people who have to navigate the hurdles of just starting out in life with the added complication of a serious disability. Being that age myself, I’m encouraging people to register their business or nominate their boss to take part in the Big Day Off. Your participation will help all Australian’s with spinal cord injury receive the support they need to live their day-to-day lives and to find a cure for future generations.”