When Dave Jacka was nineteen, he broke his neck in a motorbike accident, leaving him with quadriplegia and six percent physical function. For the rest of his life, Dave would be in a wheelchair—paralysed from his armpits down, with limited arm function, no use of his fingers and unable to regulate his body temperature. For the former surfer, snow-skier and carpenter, this was utterly devastating.
Dave's remarkable journey of rebuilding his life began relearning how to feed himself, to driving a car and retraining in engineering. He then worked as a project manager, represented Australia in wheelchair rugby at the 1996 Paralympics, and eventually fulfiled his boyhood dream of learning to fly.
Dave has achieved each milestone by applying his remarkable mindset and philosophy. Instead of viewing obstacles as impenetrable barriers, Dave frames them as opportunities—opportunities to think laterally, devise solutions, overcome frustration—by doing it differently.
By custom-designing modifications to his recreational aircraft, in 2013 Dave became the first person with quadriplegia to fly solo around Australia.
In 2014 Dave was a Victorian finalist for the Australian of the Year and was awarded an Order of Australia Medal for his contribution to people with a disability through sport.
In 2016, Dave modified a sea kayak, taped his hands to the paddle and paddled the 2226km length of the Murray River—thereby achieving another world first.
Dave is married, has a dog and a cat and always has his eye on his next big adventure.