IT WAS that ill-fated day in 1994 when 19-year-old Perry Cross was busy playing rugby and, within seconds, his world came crashing down. An on-field accident broke his neck and severed his spinal cord, leaving him a quadriplegic on life support, unable to move from the neck down, unable to talk or eat.
But, that was then. Things have changed now. Not that Perry has been cured, but he has learnt a way to conquer the odds.
From being the first ventilated quadriplegic in Queensland, he has now become a public speaker. And on Thursday, Perry was out there at the Tau Devi Lal Stadium cheering his country-mates — Damien Martyn and Jason Gillespie — who are playing for the Ahmedabad Rockets in the ICL 20s Challenge.
"I have been in Delhi for the last three weeks and came especially to see the tournament. These matches are very popular in Australia, so I became all the more curious," said Perry, who is here with his caretakers.
"And then there are two Australians in this team… I am here to cheer them," he added. Incidentally, Aussie Adam Gilchrist is the Perry Cross Foundation ambassador, as his website www.perryx.com reveals. The foundation works towards raising funds for the cure of those afflicted with paralysis.
"I went through a lot of pain in my life and I know how it feels to be confined to a chair. That is the reason why I have set up the foundation. You should have a look at my website, there is some motivational stuff for the patients suffering from paralysis," he added.
At 32, Perry is one of Australia's most sought after motivational speakers who has addressed such groups as the Australian cricket team, the Australian defence forces and many others and has a long list of awards and a compelling autobiography appropriately titled — Still Standing, to his name.