Four years ago Shamus Liptrot was a talented under 19 cyclist with a bright future ahead as a professional.
Today he still spends hours on a bike - but it’s in a brave bid to walk again.
The gutsy teen last week spoke of his long journey back from the horrific injuries he sustained in a cycling accident in Tasmania.
Speaking at a function to greet cyclists from the Great Southern Ride for Sick Kids and mark 10 years since the opening of the Fiona Lodge Ronald McDonald Family Retreat at Rosedale, Shamus thanked the riders for their efforts.
“It is very likely that you people will allow comfort to be brought into the lives of children who have to deal with many health challenges,” he said.
Shamus, 19, knows better than most the strain sickness and ill health place on families.
He still struggles to speak and to control his limbs, but his inspirational message was clear - nothing will stop him reaching his goals, albeit different ones to those he had before that fateful day.
“I was once a highly motivated under 19 age group cyclist, representing the South Australian Institute of Sport,” Shamus recalled.
“I decided I would try my luck bike racing in Tasmania. I left as an able bodied person with completely different aspirations to the ones I returned home with.
“I was in a group of roughly 13 cyclists heading for the finish line. A mishap resulted in ... myself flying over the track fence to come to a halt with the help of a light pole. Thankful as I am that I did eventually come to a stop, the method of hitting my head on that light pole resulted in some pretty nasty damage. This being a broken leg, jaw, a punctured lung, broken bones in my skull and internal bleeding.”
Shamus spent almost a year in hospital, supported by his parents, Malcolm and Patricia, who stayed in Adelaide’s Ronald McDonald House.
He has progressed from being bedridden, totally dependent on people to feed, shower and toilet him, to being able to speak well enough to be understood and almost walk independently.
“The long slow process of recovery takes its toll ... so this vacation has been blissful and revitalising,” Shamus said of his time at Rosedale’s Fiona Lodge.
“Many thanks to the people who made this happen. The funds raised by the late Des Philips to get this resort going, during his own fight with cancer, were greatly appreciated.
“It was also a dream of Rachael and Jim Johns to build such a facility, which would help families with children of poor-quality health, and the support of Malcolm Coutts (CEO Ronald McDonald House Charities) strongly encouraged this resort to become a reality.
“The parents of the late Fiona Weeks, who this lodge was named after, continue to administrate and help the families who are fortunate enough to experience this beautiful resort.
“I would like to thank Ronald McDonald House for giving my family such a lovely holiday.”
Shamus has dreams of one day becoming a journalist.
A McDonald’s Charlie Bell Education Scholarship of $5000, topped up by a $1000 donation from a guest at last week’s function, will help him towards that goal.