In 1974, I ended my South Australian Football career having played for five years with North Adelaide in the SANFL.
1975 saw me head off to play in the VFL for Footscray, the Bulldogs as they are still best known. The VFL was the pinnacle and as a 24 year old I was ready to take it on.
My Footscray career was into only its second game when I became a quadriplegic following a collision in the game against Fitzroy. Of course it became the biggest news story of its time and I have had to live in its aftermath for over 40 years.
I determined to get on with life. I had a young wife and two sons aged one and two. I wanted to be a positive part of their lives and be around them as they grew up. I made up my mind to be a responsible participant in this football event and not to blame others.
Thankfully it had never occurred before nor since.
Having a positive attitude was part of my solution. By being happy within myself I knew that other people would follow. By drowning in my sorrows, others around me would drown. I had seen plenty of that in my early days in the spinal unit.
I also learnt that by empowering my heart it would stop me thinking about the dark side of quadriplegia.
Compassion for myself, my family, and the community became my mantra.
I needed money so I went to work for Bedford Industries in Adelaide, an organisation for people with disabilities. I started as a client and became their fundraising manager. I have worked for the Paraplegic and Quadriplegic Association of South Australia, the Asthma Foundation and the Deaf Society.
In 1995 I commenced the Neil Sachse Foundation who’s vision is to find a cure for spinal cord injury. With over $2 million raised, I am proud of the work the Foundation is doing and proud of the recognition we receive.
Mine is not a hard-luck story, but a story of someone dealing with his lot in life, for better and for worse.
I hope I can help men find their way through their own forest.