Nikki Preston

Nikki Preston is a Herald reporter based in Hamilton.

Daredevil's epic adventure

Tetraplegic plans to enter London-Mongolia rally and show disability is no barrier

Jeremy Williams paragliding Queenstown with infinity paragliding with makingtrax leg harnesses.
Jeremy Williams paragliding Queenstown with infinity paragliding with makingtrax leg harnesses.

For wheelchair user Jeremy "Jezza" Williams, travelling from Britain to Mongolia in a low-powered vehicle will be one tough adventure - especially when he's determined to throw himself out of a plane and down rapids along the way.

Mr Williams, a tetraplegic, relies on carers to help him after an accident while leading a canyoning tour in the Swiss Alps in 2010 left him paralysed. He slipped and fell 10m and broke his neck landing on a rock.

But the 39-year-old North Canterbury daredevil is determined to take part in the Mongol Rally in July 2015. A team of six other Kiwi adventurers, including his carer, are planning to travel 16,093km through 14 countries as they make their way between Britain and Mongolia over six weeks.

The event rules require the rally vehicle to be classed as "unique" or have an engine size of no greater than 1200cc. Mr Williams' team, called Making Trax, plans to use several vehicles including a Volvo STV, a quirky Lada Niva hatchback and a few motorbikes with side-carriages, which Mr Williams plans to ride in for some of the way.

Competitors have to raise a minimum $1992 for charity but Making Trax is planning to raise more than $100,000 through sponsorship and donations. The money will be put into a trust fund to allow disabled people to experience outdoor adventures.

Mr Williams runs a business - also called Making Trax - which helps others in wheelchairs experience adventure tourism. He admitted the Mongol Rally would be a challenge.

His team also plan to make the adventure more extreme by skydiving in the Swiss Alps, paragliding in the Austrian Alps and rafting in Turkey.

"I want to do bridge swings, bungy jumps - everything I can find on the way that everybody says people in my position can't ... Myself, I don't see it as being hugely dangerous but there are many things that could go wrong and that's the whole point of having an adventure really."

Going from being an active person to someone who has to be pushed in a wheelchair has been a huge learning curve for the Waipara man who wants to change the way society views disabled people.

"I want to prove a point that people look at people so weird if they are in a wheelchair. Nobody comes up to me and talks to me about how beautiful my blue eyes are anymore - they tend to talk about my blimmin' wheel chair any my disability."

The Making Trax team has almost met the trip's cost of $22,000 through new website Spark My Potential - a spin-off of crowdfunding website Givealittle run by the Spark Foundation (formerly Telecom Foundation).

- NZ Herald

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