“Think of the most insane thing you couldn’t imagine achieving in your wildest dreams. Where there’s a will there’s a way,” says skydiving adventurer Kirby.
The most insane thing 27-year-old Kirby has done is jumping out of a plane. Taking to the sky is literally in her DNA, Kirby’s dad and all her brothers fly planes and skydiving is a family tradition, her brother Harry explained. Kirby and Harry have a very large extended family with 30 cousins, and when one of the kids turns 18 the aunties and uncles gift them a skydive voucher. However, Kirby didn’t get this when she was 18 which bothered Harry, so he made it his mission to get her skydiving because she loved the idea of it. It was just a matter of finding the right instructor to take her.
Kirby was ecstatic that her skydiving adventure was featured in Cerebral Palsy Alliance’s TV ad campaign “A life changing movement”. She’s keen to show the world that anything really is possible. Kirby has a cerebral palsy GMFCS level 5; she uses a wheelchair, is non-verbal and uses eye gaze technology to communicate.
Extreme sports and making genuine close connections are what Kirby treasures most in life. She goes skiing every year with Disability Winter Sports Australia, has been a bridesmaid three times, and regularly travels to Sydney with her support workers, who have become her best mates, to see shows.
“When I tell people in the street I took Kirby skydiving and skiing last year people think I’m joking,” said Harry.
Her down time is watching other people play video games and fishing with Harry, who she has a close bond with. Harry says a typical day for Kirby depends on “whatever ‘the queen’ feels like doing”. During her teens Kirby lived with Harry and his family on a farm so she could experience all the freedom and fun a teenager should have away from their parents’ watchful eyes.
“She has this kind of impact on people where she’s just immediately part of their life, I think she’s quite proud of being able to make genuine connections.”
A big part of Kirby’s growing independence is thanks to the support of the NDIS. Prior to the NDIS the family and community all looked after Kirby’s physical and funding needs. A rota of 11 people came in and stretch her to improve her mobility, and they’d community fundraise for big items like cars and wheelchairs. Harry explained Kirby was the first person to trial the NDIS in NSW and this funding now enables their parents to travel and for Kirby to have support workers and assistive technology, such as ceiling hoists –which is a great relief for Harry, who used to have debilitating back ache from lifting Kirby.
Kirby can’t wait to go skydiving again and there’s no shortage of friends and family willing to jump with her. In fact, the family is planning to make this an annual event. Her next goals are to go game fishing with Harry, and they’re also writing a children’s picture book to try to educate people and create more empathy towards people with disabilities.