September 'Community Hero'
25-Sep-2013 3:04 PM
A 60-year-old Wyndham man with physical disabilities who has raised a staggering $50,000 to help others in need has been named the September winner of a 3AW and Villa Maria Community Hero award.
Each month since February, an inspiring individual who has overcome the odds to achieve their dreams, or who makes a positive difference to their community, has been chosen to receive a Community Hero award. The initiative – run by Villa Maria and top-rating radio station 3AW – aims to ensure unsung heroes receive the recognition they deserve.
Les Porter’s life changed forever when he was struck by a car 25 years ago. Married for just eight weeks at the time, Les, with the support of his loving family, battled through five months of rehabilitation to regain his independence. He has been left with limited use of the left side of his body.
Les said officers from the Salvation Army who visited patients in the rehabilitation centre made such a positive impact on their lives, he vowed to do something for them in return.
“Later on I was using a tricycle as part of my rehab and the thought came to me that maybe I could use this to support the Salvos,” Les said.
Since that time Les hasn’t looked back. Using his ability to ride an adult-sized tricycle, donated by Wyndham Rotary, Les has completed seven charity rides, including from Werribee to Port Augusta, raising around $50,000 for the Salvation Army in the City of Wyndham to help support the homeless, the disadvantaged and those at risk in his community.
His eighth ride, beginning October 19, centres around a newer concept created by Les, the Wyndham 1,000. This unique challenge sees him ride 1,000kms around the local area, joined by residents and community supporters along the way.
The rides can take up to three weeks and be physically and mentally taxing on Les. Despite his own personal challenges, Les believes if you have the ability to make a positive difference in someone else’s life, you should.
“You don’t know what you’re capable of until you try. The most important thing with anything you do is to have PMA – a positive, mental attitude.”
Les’s daughter Sarah – who nominated him for the award – described him as a “true community hero and an inspiration”.
Les said without the support of his daughters Sarah and Jacinta, his wife Margaret, and long-time friends such as Rotary member Ian Jobs (pictured) he couldn’t have achieved all he had for the community.
“It’s not very often that I’m lost for words, but I was lost for words upon receiving this award. I don’t do anything for pats on the back or accolades, but it is nice when something like this comes along as it lifts you up and spurs you on.”
Villa Maria Executive Manager Marketing Rebecca Ryan said Les was a fantastic example of the type of community-minded and inspiring people the organisation and 3AW wanted to acknowledge.
In recognition of his achievements, Les has been given $1,000 thanks to E&S Trading, and Sarah has received an exclusive $250 E&S Trading gift as thanks for her nomination.
Nominating is easy. To find out how visit: www.3aw.com.au/comp-communityheroes
If you would like to support Les on his upcoming Wyndham 1,000, please visit his blog: http://wyndham1000.wordpress.com/
Interviews and photograph opportunities are available upon request.
Media enquiries: call Cassie Zlonzak on (03) 9855 7729 or 0406 382 560.
About Villa Maria
Villa Maria is a values–based, not-for-profit organisation providing quality services and life enhancing opportunities for older people and children and adults with a disability, their families and carers.
Established in 1907 as the Catholic Braille Writers Association, Villa Maria has grown to become one of Victoria’s largest not-for-profit providers of disability, education and senior services with more than 60 programs supporting 5,000 people across the state and southern New South Wales.
Every day of the year, 1,200 staff and 300+ volunteers respond to the unique needs of the people and families we support with openness, innovation, creativity and flexibility.