Gold Coast marathon runner and YouTuber extends a message of hope

Published On: 27 September 2023Categories: NDIS, News
At 64 years of age, Gold Coast resident David Harris is kicking goals, literally.

After experiencing a traumatic upbringing and early adult life, David has found hope and strength through exercise and a strong sense of self-belief and will power.

Whether running marathons, playing AFL or making the leap as a tandem skydiver, David continues to motivate many.

“When we look at exercise, there's so many positive benefits in relation to that, bearing in mind, as I said, that I was classified as being permanently incapacitated,” David said.

“When I was told that, I could have accepted the decision by so-called experts, yet somehow, I found the willpower and strength in myself to say, no… I can actually do exercise.”

a person holding a trophyHe’s since completed 10 Gold Coast full marathons and become a strong advocate for the positive benefits of exercise on a person’s mental health, both physically and socially.

David can’t speak highly enough about the mental health benefits of team sports

About six years ago someone at a parkrun suggested David try AFL, something he’d never played before. But at 57 years of age, he gave it a shot and loved the team camaraderie of it.

“When I did something, well, they gave me a clap and after each training session, we gave each other high fives and clapped each other's hands. They have supported me in so many ways, I'm so proud to be a member of this club,” David said.

“Being part of a team sport and being regarded as an equal in a team environment, it’s made such a positive impact on myself… and the social connection with meeting other people.”

David also recognises that exercise can help with emotional regulation and mood.

“Someone might have a lot of anger built up inside them for whatever reason, but through exercise, you can release the anger in a healthy way,” David said.

Through the assistance of Carers Queensland and the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), David was able to engage a support coordinator to assist him in connecting to supports and services.

“A couple of years ago I met a support coordinator… she has had the most positive impact on me out of anyone in my life,” David said.

“The trauma of PTSD… I get overwhelmed easily. She's been able to help me in so many ways,” David said.

The positive benefits of giving back by volunteering in the community.

Every Christmas and Mother’s Day, David visits a local shopping centre to wrap presents, with proceeds going to the Currumbin Wildlife Hospital.

This means on Christmas Day each year, David isn’t sitting at home feeling sorry for himself thinking ‘poor me.’ Instead, he’s relishing in how his actions are making others happy.

“It’s a beautiful feeling, a special feeling, knowing that on Christmas Day, so many people are unwrapping presents that I've wrapped,” he said.

“When you're actually doing volunteering, when you're giving to other people, the feel-good factor is just incredible… you're giving someone a proverbial glass of water, receiving a glass of champagne in return.”

David creates motivational videos sharing messages of hope and resilience.

a man holding a white object“I've launched nine YouTube videos now… And in those I talk about the importance of hope,” David said.

“I think when people are really struggling, writing the word ‘hope’ on a piece of paper… having it written in every room in the house where you are and with you whenever you go out.

“So things might be going very badly wrong and you are able to look at that word.

“We all have that inner strength. To look at yourself in the mirror and say words such as, ‘I love myself, I believe in myself, I approve of myself’. I found hope within me. I hope others do too.”

Carers Queensland can support you to find out more about the NDIS, to apply for funding and to help you get started with the NDIS.

If you have a disability but are not eligible for the NDIS, Carers Queensland can help you identify and link to options for support in your community.

You can also contact Carers Queensland on 1300 999 636, cq.enquiries@ndis.gov.au, or sign up to our LAC Connect app here.