The first thought that crossed David Galea's mind when he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2008 at the age of 40, was of Australia's "Golden Girl" Betty Cuthbert, a once great Olympic athlete who, now using a wheelchair, also lives with multiple sclerosis.
A competitive cyclist in summer and a footballer in winter, David and his wife were stunned when they were given the news he had multiple sclerosis. Looking back, he now knows he had been experiencing symptoms for four years prior to his diagnosis.
After a few sleepless nights, David decided he was not going to let his disease get the better of him, at the end of 2008 he cycled the 96km Sydney to Gong Ride for MS with his young son.
Eighteen months after diagnosis David's 23 year relationship broke down, he lost his wife, two children, home and job in the construction industry. Being someone who has always tried to see the positives in life David completed his studies to become a personal trainer and started his own business, something he had always dreamt of doing, given his lifelong passion for health and fitness.
Although his illness has progressed over the years and he now relies on a wheelchair David runs Able Fitness personal training on the Central Coast of NSW, his clients range for teenagers to sixty five year olds from all fitness levels and walks of life. He also trains other people living with multiple sclerosis helping them with strength and functionality, keeping the muscles supple and working.
David keeps extremely active himself, weight training every day and hand cycling around the central coasts cycle tracks. David competes with Wheelchair Sports NSW in handcycling, tried out for winter Paralympic selection in sit snow skiing and enjoys a recreational water ski with NSW Waterskiing Federation in summer.
In 2010 David met Tricia who shared his interest in health and fitness, was accepting of his multiple sclerosis and supportive and encouraging of his sporting endeavours, they married in August 2012.
He is grateful for the help he has received from MS since his diagnosis. "The health professionals on the MS Connect telephone line were the first people I turned to for information and they helped," he says.
David received an MS Go for Gold Scholarship from MS to assist him to purchase a competitive hand cycle, something he could not have afforded to do on his own, "I want to give something back to MS and the more people I can touch and inspire with my story, the better."