Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Scrapheap Adventure 2012: April, Kosciuszko


He may have no legs, but that won’t stop Perry Gilsenan from riding cross country for Down syndrome this Easter

He's a man who's had a tougher ride than most. But to watch Perry Gilsenan tear along the Newell Highway on his old BMW motorcycle, no one would everguess he was missing what most of us take for granted: legs. At age of 12, the Baulkham Hills father (pictured above) lost both legs in a horrific train accident. Several years later, disaster struck once more when Perrywas involved in a car crash, with injuries (including five fractured vertebrae and fourteen broken ribs) nearly claiming his life.

But despite these early misfortunes, this big-hearted fellow has always been one to count lifeʼs blessings rather than toils. For Perry, the word "disabled" has never even entered his vocabulary. 

"I hate the word 'disabled'," he says."Any word that has "dis" or "in" in front of it, I feel, does a disservice to people and their worth and how they can live their life. It implies that people are not "able" when they are. It's not your identity; it's something that has happened to you. You have to rise above that. I feel I'm capable of anything I set my mind to. The only thing that limits me is my heart, my mind and imagination."

It was this passion and zest for life that led Perry, a motorcycle lover from way back, to create the Scrapheap Adventure Ride, an adventure rally which sees enthusiasts build bikes from spare parts, and make an intrepid journey to a set destination on recycled (and occasionally rickety) steeds.Thanks to word-of-mouth publicity, in just three years the ride has grown from a handful of participants, to a fully-fledged national event, attracting dozens o friders from all over the country keen to test their mettle on hand-built “scrappers”.

This year's destination, McPhersons Plains Alpine Retreat, Mt. Kosciuszko, promises to be the “best yet”, according to Perry, and riders wonʼbe disappointed.

"The scenery is stunning up there," he says. "In my opinion, there's no better way to experience the Australian countryside than on a motorcycle. Plus we'll be having a party once we get there to celebrate, and families are welcome!"

While the Scrapheap Adventure Ride may boast enough camaraderie and rugged terrain to make any adventure-lover swoon, it will also be raising funds and awareness  for  a  noble cause. Last year, buoyed by Perryʼs unwavering support for his daughter Grace (pictured), who has Down syndrome, the Scrapheap Adventure team raised $65,000 for Down Syndrome NSW, a small charity in Sydney's greater west that supports families and children touched by the condition.

"We're a small organisation and receive little government support, so it was fantastic to have funds donated by the Scrappers," said Stephen Clarke, CEO ofDown Syndrome NSW.

"Donations of this kind allow us to continue supporting people with Down syndrome and their families, particularly now in regional areas where families can be more isolated and may find support harder to access. We are so very reliant on community support to sustain what we do and fully support the Scrappers in this year's ride!"

Perry is already busy rallying the troops for the Easter event, and hopes that this yearʼs efforts for the association will be even more successful. He also hopes that  this event  will  encourage  people  with  disabilities  and  their  families  to  believe  that  anything  is  possible.

"I may not have legs, but as far as I'm concerned, there's nothing I can't do,” says Perry. “I want Gracie to grow up secure in my love, knowing she can do anything she sets her mind to. Like I said, we believe in "ability" in this household, not "disability. No limits. That's why I love motorcycling so much: there are no limits."

Indeed. And what could be better than spending a long weekend riding your bike with a few mates, all for a great cause?

Riders from all bikes of life (not just scrappers) are encouraged to register and attend. The Scrapheap Adventure Ride is a family-friendly event.

For more information about the Scrapheap Adventure Ride, to register or to make a donation, please visit

CONTACT  JESSICA CHALKER on 0434 840212  or

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