Unbeknownst to us, a lovely friend, Gina Carstens contacted the Invictus Games organisers asking if they could find a way for us to attend the games in Sydney. Mia was finding her legs difficult at the time. Hopefully meeting and seeing other amazing amputees would inspire her. We were over the moon to find out that our flights, accommodation, transport, tickets and fun sightseeing activities were all organised and paid for.
On our first day, we had a relaxing day on Sydney Harbour with Dr Munjed Al Muderis, family and friends. Mia now asks if she can live on a boat, with Ellie, when they are older. The Al Muderis Foundation helped organise and pay for our amazing trip. A big THANK YOU to Munjed, Michelle, Nick and their family & friends for making us feel very welcome.
We stayed at the Pullman Hotel at Sydney Olympic Park where a lot of amputees were staying. It was wonderful to see so many different prosthesis and wheelchairs in the lifts and at breakfast. We chatting to a few amputees, learnt their stories and how much sport means to them. It was such a positive experience. Everyone, the staff, competitors, spectators and games staff were all so lovely.
The Invictus Games events we watched were the indoor rowing, wheelchair tennis, sitting volleyball and swimming. The atmosphere was electric in the indoor rowing arena. The sitting volley ball was a very close intense game. The awards ceremonies were emotional. Founded by Prince Harry in 2014, the Invictus Games are an international adaptive sports event for wounded, injured and ill active duty and veteran service personnel. The gathering of service personnel for support, to share their experiences and find others in similar situations would be a wonderful experience. We really enjoyed being spectators.
ABC news did a lovely piece about Mia. As part of it we were so lucky to meet Curtis McGrath. Whilst serving in Afghanistan he lost both his legs to an IED blast. He is now representing his country in the Australian Paracanoe Team. He was a really friendly, genuine guy. He took off one of his legs and showed Mia. I am sure all of these meetings with other amputees will help Mia adapt and accept through knowing there are others like her.
We were also very lucky to meet Ian Thorpe. He is another fabulous friendly guy.
On our last day we visited Sydney Taronga Zoo. We were gifted a special VIP tour of the Taronga Institute of Science and Learning. We had close encounters with wildlife. Mia and Ellie are braver than I when touching a snake! We enjoyed the rest of the day pottering around the zoo.
THANK YOU to everyone who made our trip a lot of fun, inspirational and very memorable.