Paraplegic cyclist determined to get back on his bike
A FORMER Sunshine Coast paramedic is fighting to get back on his bike after a traffic crash robbed him of the use of his legs.
Only 12 months ago cyclist Graham Walters was the picture of fitness, but that now all feels like a lifetime ago.
In August 2016, Mr Walters was rendered a paraplegic when he was hit by a car while training for a ride in the French Alps.
The driver of the car was allegedly on her mobile phone at the time.
Mr Walters said he had been riding on the shoulder of the road when the car struck him from behind.
"(It is frustrating) when you know it's not your fault and you're trying to do the right thing by road users," he said.
"A couple of seconds either way, and things might have been different."
Robbed of the use of his legs and his passion for cycling in an instant, Mr Walters said for a long time he couldn't even look at a bike.
"It took a long time for me to even look at anything bike related," Mr Walters said.
"It just tore my heart apart."
But Mr Walters' cycling days may not be over - not if his friends have their way.
Two of his cycling buddies, Klaus Bartosch and Tim Wakeman, are determined to get their mate back in his lycra and on the road.
The pair have started a GoFundMe account to raise the $11,000 needed for a custom-made hand-pedal bicycle.
"The funds raised will be used to purchase a special bike for Graham, depending on funds raised, an Invacare Top End Force RX handcycle plus accessories, and should there be any extra, to help offset the significant financial burden or medical expenses and wheelchair access to his home," Mr Bartosch said on the GoFundMe page.
Ninety-two per cent of their target has been raised in only 11 days, giving Graham renewed hope that he might be back on a bike sooner than ever.
"Just to be out there again with the guys that I cycle with would be magic," Mr Walters said.
"I'm just blown away by how much people are donating; people I don't even know.
"It's very humbling."
Graham's friends are also planning a charity ride in Brisbane at the start of next year, #RideWithGraham, to help bring public attention to the dangers of drivers not paying attention when driving.
The #RideWithGraham campaign aims to bring national awareness to educate drivers to be more careful around cyclists and stay off their phones.
Donate to the #RideWithGraham fundraiser here.