GOING STRONG: Roger McKenzie says a willingness to keep going and overcome obstacles are the keys to his success.
GOING STRONG: Roger McKenzie says a willingness to keep going and overcome obstacles are the keys to his success.

Tackling

By ADRIAN MILLER

HE finished eighth in the 1994 Sydney to Hobart, hitch hiked solo around India, addressed 20,000 people at an IBM conference and even taught the Wallabies how to surf.

All this for a man who was lucky to live past his teens.

Diagnosed at age 14 with a rare strain of meningitis which at the time no-one in the world had ever survived, Roger McKenzie, now 53, has achieved more in his lifetime than most.

And what makes his story all the more remarkable is that while he survived the crippling meningitis, he was blinded for life.

Mr McKenzie, who now lives in Grafton, is a motivational speaker, and talks often to numerous groups about his experiences.

In October he will address the Safety Institute of Australia conference in Sydney as the keynote speaker.

"I don't like the term motivational speaker," he said.

"What I do is tell the story about my life."

Mr McKenzie, who a few years ago had a book written about his life, said all the things he had achieved could be put down to a willingness to have a go.

"One of my favourite sayings is most people aim for nothing in life and hit it with miraculous consistency," he said.

"I'm like a kid in the bush when they come up to a barbed-wire fence. You can look up and down the paddock looking for a gate, or you could part the barbed-wire and climb through it, and that's how I like to tackle every obstacle."

While Mr McKenzie is intent on overcoming barriers and obstacles, he is just as passionate about the Clarence Valley.

He is involved in Police and Citizen Youth Clubs, and has been instrumental in numerous community programs.

"I'm passionate about doing anything that's going to build and sustain business in a rural area," he said.

Starting his own brewery in Grafton is just one of his dreams.

"If you know anyone with a spare $8.2 million in their back pocket, I'll take it and we can start work tomorrow," he said.

Mr McKenzie, the first blind person to pass the NSW HSC (1972) said he lived life by simple measures.

"In the talk I give I quote a lot from Richard Bark's book Illusions," he said.

"One is: 'here is a test to see if you're mission in life is complete. If you're still alive, it's not'."



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