Kiwi mum: He could win gold at the Paralympics

By Julia Jensen

A mum who feared people would stare at her disabled baby is now so proud of him she wants the world to see his incredible athletic skills which have wowed doctors.

A spinal disorder meant Josh Brass was born at just 35 weeks with no kneecaps, no tailbone, unable to walk and with only one kidney.

Stunned new mum Abbi was told her only child would never walk and for the first few months didn't take Josh outside fearing what people would say.

But after 'growing a pair' Abbi conquered her fears as Josh conquered hearts with his incredible personality that has seen him gain thousands of fans online.

Now Abbi shares pictures and videos of her sports mad son who can do 300 push-ups in just 15 minutes and bench press almost his own body weight.

New Zealander Abbi, 32, who lives in Carrara, Queensland, Australia, at first covered Josh's legs with a blanket for fear of people staring - but now feels the world should see her incredible son in action.

She said: "I believe in my Josh. He's going to make a difference. It's good to get him out there and spread the love. Other people will be inspired by him.

"One day he could win gold at the Paralympics.

"At first doctors weren't able to diagnose him for weeks until after he was born because they weren't totally sure what was wrong with him.

"As a new mum I was terrified. Google was my worst enemy. I didn't know how people would react and I didn't want to answer their questions.

"But eventually I just grew a pair. It took ages but then I just got over it and if people stared at me then I'd stare right back.

Josh Brass, 7, is in a wheelchair but nothing is stopping him. Photo / Caters News Agency
Josh Brass, 7, is in a wheelchair but nothing is stopping him. Photo / Caters News Agency

"People are going to stare, so I told Josh to give people something to stare about.

"If people are glancing at him, he'll pop a wheelie on his chair and tell them to check out his Facebook page if they want to see more."

Josh was born with sacral agenesis, a congenital disorder that effects spinal development.
Born prematurely he was missing several vertebrae, suffered from hip dysplasia, had club feet, hernias, and a hole in his heart - but that hasn't stop him from pursuing his passion for sports.

Josh is interested in all things athletic and is wowing spectators with his amazing abilities.

Abbi said: "His upper body strength is incredible. He can do 300 push-ups in 15 minutes. I can't even do three

"He's competed in a dozen 5k races and plays everything from golf to basketball.

"At three he was introduced to Wheelchair Motocross (WCMX) and gymnastics. I desperately wanted to get those little muscles to move.

"Earlier this year we entered him in his first Spartan race. We registered him and didn't tell anyone he was disabled, so when we showed up people were looking at him and wondering what he was doing there.

"Security asked Josh if he wanted to use the lift, but Josh said no and used his hands to get on. He doesn't get phased when people look at him differently."

Josh, who has a schedule jam-packed with sports camps and sweat sessions at the gym, has over 4,000 followers cheer him on with each endeavour.

He said : "The Spartan race was so cool because there was a lot of mud."

His latest is a push up challenge: 22 push-ups every day for 22 consecutive days, the goal to help raise awareness for PTSD, anxiety, depression and suicide.

Mum said: "He's so quirky, I swear, he's 18. At school he's very popular and not short of friends.

"He's actually the first kid in his school in a wheelchair. They've build ramps and special toilets for him.

"After school he participates in drama club and takes singing lessons. He wants to be Michael Jackson when he grows up!

"Well, also a Paralympian... and Jeremy Wade from the show River Monsters."

But for mum and dad Morgan, giving their son a 'normal' childhood has had its challenges.

For starters, as New Zealanders in Australia (Abbi and Morgan only hold permanent residency for tax purposes), Josh receives limited governmental support.

Josh Brass has been determined from a young age. Photo / Caters News Agency
Josh Brass has been determined from a young age. Photo / Caters News Agency


Abbi said: "The physiotherapists didn't want Josh in a wheelchair until he was six years old. If they had it their way he'd still be in a pram.

"But because he's been in a chair since he was three he's so good. These kids need freedom just like able-bodied kids and I wish the parents would get rid of the bubble wrap.

"They hold back quite a bit because professionals are giving them too many 'cant's' and not enough 'can's.'

"But kids are amazing. You guide them how to push and how to turn-all things we had to learn off of Google and YouTube-and within an hour they've got it.

"I make Josh do everything. He makes his bed, cleans his room, feeds the cats... we've also put wheels on the laundry baskets. I want him to be independent. He gets himself into the car. I don't want to pick him up all the time."

Josh said: "Mum owes me 50 cents for doing my chores, I'm trying to save up to get my own iPhone. The red one.

"And my tooth fell out yesterday. But I want to use my money from the Tooth Fairy to buy something at the General Store."

Josh is a cheery young lad who loves playing Angry Birds and hitting the driving range with his dad.

Abbi said: "Josh had surgery to try to make his legs bend because as he gets older he won't be able to sit in a car. His legs jut out straight.

"The surgery was a flop, which I was actually quite relieved about because he risked serious nerve damage.

"One day, Josh said, 'mum, I want to cut my legs off.'

"I freaked out when I first heard that. But we have heaps of friends with prosthetic legs, so it could be an option in the future."

But for now Josh is just busy being a kid, participating in races, learning keyboard, and starting his own YouTube channel.

A member of support communities like yooocan, a global support network for people with disabilities and their families where they can share stories and connect with others, Josh is also taking steps to raise awareness and acceptance of people with disabilities."

Josh is also taking steps to raise awareness and acceptance of people with disabilities.

Abbi said: "In September he's going to do a public speaking event at a disability centre.
"He's going to talk about himself and why he isn't different than any other kid."

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