How Andrew West reached his goal – the top of the Sydney Bridge Climb

Back to blog6 months ago by Renee
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Andrew West with Cerebral Palsy at the top of the Sydney Bridge Climb with his support crew.
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When asked what he wanted for his 21st birthday, Andrew West, who has cerebral palsy, decided he wanted a Bridge Climb ticket. He set himself the physical challenge of getting to the top by walking the 1002 stairs himself; to see Sydney from the viewing platform at the top of the bridge was just the icing on the cake.

His family were there every step of the way, working out how support him to achieve his new goal. And as we witnessed early in December 2016, he made this dream a reality. We spoke with Andrew and his family.

Andrew is no stranger to tough physical challenges, earlier in the year he was part of Krazy Kosci Klimb, reaching the peak of Mt Kosciusko with his support crew and raising more than $7,700.

The next logical challenge for Andrew was to climb a Sydney icon. “I enjoy a challenge and the Sydney Harbour Bridge is such an iconic location. I didn’t want to miss out on the experience of climbing it,” he said.

For eight months Andrew took his training to the next level with a brilliant result. “It was exciting to know I had made it to the top. I also felt a sense of achievement,” he said. Channel 7 were there when Andrew, his family and Cerebral Palsy Alliance Exercise Physiologist Teigan made the Bridge Climb to coincide with International Day of People with a Disability.

Andrew made the walk within half an hour of the average walk time, showing his guide and journalist Bryan Seymour that he was more than up to the challenge.

“If you set your mind to it and train hard, you can do anything,” he told Bryan when they made it to the top. Bryan asked Andrew what advice he would give to others who may be considering doing the climb. Andrew answered “Believe in yourself and train as hard as you possibly can”.

The climb was the culmination of years of hard work. When Andrew was a teen he started training under the watchful eye of our Exercise Physiologist Teigan Butchers. She has worked with his personal trainers for the best exercises and regimes, supported finding carers who shared his love of training and building the exercise routine he needed to prepare him for his latest challenge.

It was Teigan who suggested the family check out local parks where Andrew could practise climbing a ladder, an important training solution he needed to be bridge ready. And nearby was just the ladder, where Andrew would often be found practising.

He told us the fine tuning of his fine motor skills was the hardest part for him: “I was worried about my right hand grip. I had to develop a technique that would allow me to manage all sections of the climb.”

“I’ve known Teigan for a long time and she helped establish my training program at my local gym at Leichhardt Park Aquatic Centre (LPAC). She’s always positive and encouraging and pushes me to new challenges.”

“I go to the gym twice a week; on one day I do an hour box class followed by an hour in the gym and the other day is an hour spin class followed by an hour in the gym.

“I do a variety of things including weights and exercise machines, usually with one of my LPAC personal trainers Rob or Josh.

“In preparation for the Bridge Climb, I concentrated on the stepping machine, walking up and down a flight of stairs at LPAC and independent walking.

“I added an extra hour one afternoon a week when I would walk to the park and do repetitions of ladder climbs and descents in between little kids taking turns to use the ladder for the slippery dip!

“I jump on my recumbent trike when possible, which helps maintain my fitness and leg strength. I always try to eat a healthy diet. My volunteer work every Friday keeps me active as I’m doing outdoor manual work.”

Proud parents Graeme and Janet West, along with brother Luke, felt a mixture of relief, joy, amazement and pride when Andrew made the final step onto the viewing platform at the top of the climb. For them, supporting him to achieve his goals is important: “Andrew has always enjoyed setting his own goals and we feel as parents that it is our role to support both our sons in achieving their goals. It’s just what families do.”

“We are most grateful to Bridge Climb for believing in Andrew’s ability and coming with us on the journey, along with Cerebral Palsy Alliance.  We were very impressed by Bridge Climb’s professional and positive approach and having Channel 7 present Andrew’s story on the International Day of People with a Disability was an added bonus.”

Do you have goals you want to achieve? Get in touch with one of our friendly team members to find out how we can support you to make your dreams a reality, just like Andrew.