Lex inspires the Tigers

Alexa in hospital after her cycling accident on 17 July 2021.

By Abbey Cannan

In the year since the Pomona cycling accident that caused a traumatic brain injury to Noosa’s star triathlete Alexa Leary, she has been making more moves than her world-wide campaign encourages.

Not only has she made an incredible recovery since the accident on 17 July 2021, she has helped raise more than $170,000 through her Move for Lex campaign for the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital (RBWH); become the face of the RBWH Foundation’s fundraising drive; been selected in the Swimming Australia Para National Development Squad; and become an offical ambassador for local disability charity Sunshine Butterflies.

Alexa, better known as Lex, will now be sharing her inspirational story alongside fellow athletes who defied all odds to survive near death sporting accidents, during a special luncheon at Noosa Tigers Clubhouse on Saturday 9 July.

Guests will hear the incredible stories of Australian National Champion Snow Skier Janine Shepherd and Australian BMX Olympic Athlete Kai Sakakibara.

While in training for the Olympics, Janine Shepherd was hit head-on by a truck, suffering multiple life-threatening injuries.

She, like Alexa, spent five months immobilised in a hospital bed. They both faced daunting recoveries and an uncertain future.

Struggling to rehabilitate with permanent disabilities, Janine rekindled her defiant spirit in a dramatically improbable way.

Seeing a small plane fly overhead one day, she declared, “If I can’t walk, I’ll fly.” And she did exactly that.

Today, Janine is an internationally renowned speaker whose inspiring Ted talk, ‘A Broken Body Isn’t A Broken Person’ has gathered over 2 million views. Featured on 60 Minutes and recognised with her country’s highest honour, The Order of Australia, for her inspiration and work raising awareness for spinal cord research. She has written numerous books and is now involved in her second movie in Hollywood.

Lex said the message she wants to get across to everyone at the event is to be supportive of one another.

“I really want people to have each other’s backs,” she said. “And I’ll be thanking the people that have helped me the whole way through.”

“In my accident, the doctor said I’d never be able to walk or talk again and that I’d be disabled with a brain injury for life.

“I know I have a brain injury for life, and I forget everything, but it’s okay. We’ll deal with that.”

Her mum Belinda added, “It’s getting better every day.”

The Move For Lex Day will be raising money for the Tigers, with Lex leading the team out, as players wear pink socks in support.

“Lex’s boyfriend Wil O’Dwyer plays for the Tigers, who have been such a big support to us the whole way through, so we felt it would be good to have a Move For Lex Day to give back,” her dad Russell Leary said.

The main message the Leary family has learnt in the past year is, ‘Don’t sweat the small stuff’.

“Your life can change in a day,” Russell said.

“That day of the accident, who thought we were going to live in Brisbane for five months and come back to Noosa two days out of 111 days.

“So, it’s life changing stuff. It’ll be an inspiring day. I think Janine Shepherd will be the one to really make people cry and make them laugh.”

Lex said her main goal for the next year was to be swimming every day.

“I’ll be moving to the Gold Coast to be with a professional coach and he wants to push me hard to get me to the Para Olympics,” she said.

“I’ll be training morning and night; but I want that because I’m always a sporty girl.

“I would also love to become a public speaker. I would love to just get up on a stage and speak about things because I’ve been through a lot. And mental health is a big one that I want to focus on as well.”

Don’t miss Move For Lex Day on Saturday 9 July at Noosa Tigers Clubhouse from 11.15am to 2pm.

Tickets are limited at $95 per person which includes gourmet eats by Rococo Bar and Restaurant, plus live music and drinks.

For tickets head to the Noosa Tigers website or visit noosatigers.com.au/product/move-for-lex-inspirational-luncheon-9th-july/