Driven to succeed

Lisa McLeish is smashing stereotypes. 176860 Picture: STEWART CHAMBERS

By Bonny Burrows

Lisa McLeish will not be defined by her disabilities.
The 36-year-old Pakenham woman – who has cerebral palsy, epilepsy and mild autism – is smashing stereotypes and the misconception people with a disability “need to sit at home”.
Ms McLeish will be one of 18 baton bearers to carry the Queen’s Baton around Frankston’s waterfront on 11 February in the lead-up to this year’s Commonwealth Games.
The following month, she’s off on the trip of a lifetime with her sister Kylie to Hong Kong.
It’s a big feat for a woman who was told at three she would never walk or talk, and she couldn’t be more excited.
A top ten-pin bowler, Ms McLeish saw an advertisement calling for expressions of interest for people wanted to carry the Queen’s Baton.
“I thought, I’m as good as everyone else, so why not?” Ms McLeish said.
“I’ve always been told by my (late) mum, it doesn’t matter if you have a disability or not, you follow your dreams.”
After an anxious three month application wait, which saw Ms McLeish “check my email every second day”, she received the good news.
“I’m so excited. Every Sunday I do a countdown of how many weeks left,” she said.
While her uniform is “top-secret,” Ms McLeish did reveal how she was preparing for the big day.
“I do a lot of weights with eight pound and 10 pound bowling balls,” she said.
“They also say you can carry a five litre bottle of coke or water around to practice, but I think I’ll be right. I’ve got this.”
Ms McLeish will tragically walk the relay just two months after her mother’s death.
However, she said her mother would be with her every step of the way.
“We’ll go over and see mum (at the cemetery) beforehand. And she’s represented on my necklace, all my family will be there cheering me on,” Ms McLeish said.
“I’m looking forward to going out and celebrating the day.”
Ms McLeish said she hoped that by participating in the relay she would inspire other people with a disability to chase their dreams.
“I’ve always been encouraged to follow what I want to do, to not let anyone tell me I can’t do that,” she said.
“People with a disability don’t need to sit at home; you can go out and do everything. I hope I prove that to others.”