Media/If Clare can leave her wheelchair to dive with sharks, what’s stopping you doing 10,000 steps a day?

If Clare can leave her wheelchair to dive with sharks, what’s stopping you doing 10,000 steps a day?

Woman with cerebral palsy swaps wheelchair for wetsuit to dive with sharks at Manly

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If Clare can leave her wheelchair to dive with sharks, what's stopping you doing 10,000 steps a day?
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MANLY, AUGUST 2014 – For most of us, the idea of swimming with sharks sets our hearts racing. Now imagine swimming with sharks and having limited control over where or how you move to keep out of harm’s way. How’s the heart rate now?

That was the challenge for nearly 60-year-old Clare White who has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair for mobility. She swapped her wheelchair for a wetsuit, oxygen tank and face mask, and took on the challenge of Shark Dive Xtreme at Manly SEA LIFE Sanctuary.

Any guests over the age of 14 can take the exhilarating plunge at Manly SEA LIFE Sanctuary’s Shark Dive Xtreme, where divers have the opportunity to come face-to-fin with the world’s largest collection of Grey Nurse Sharks, sea turtles, huge sting rays and tropical fish.

Scuba diving has been a lifelong dream for Clare, but one which has been unattainable – until now.

As part of its STEPtember campaign, which promotes people of all ages and abilities getting active for the month of September, Cerebral Palsy Alliance is celebrating Clare’s determination to reach her goal.

STEPtember is all about finding an activity that interests you and getting active’, said Rob White, CEO of Cerebral Palsy Alliance. ‘Swimming with sharks won’t be everybody’s cup of tea, but it shows the variety of activities that Australians of all ages and fitness levels can undertake for STEPtember. That’s the great thing about this activity challenge – you are only limited by your imagination, and maybe your nerves!’

Participants form teams of four and each aim to do 10,000 steps a day from 3-30 September. More than 40 different activities can be converted into steps, including soccer, surfing and you guessed it, swimming. Participants also raise money to provide therapy, equipment and research to support kids and adults like Clare who live with cerebral palsy.

For Clare, her underwater experience was a dream come true.

‘I’d been training in the hydrotherapy pool for three years to build up my strength and stamina and couldn’t wait to get into the water and experience that feeling of weightlessness and moving without limitations’, Clare said. ‘Diving with sharks was my lifelong dream come true, although I did rely on my dive instructors to make sure I didn’t get too close!

‘If I can conquer this, there should be nothing standing in the way of others taking up the STEPtember challenge. Walking the dog, doing yoga or riding bikes with the kids are less extreme ways of getting your daily 10,000 step count up, and I’m sure will be more popular than swimming with sharks!’

STEPtember is an Aussie-inspired campaign which is now also being held in the US, Canada, the UK, The Netherlands and Turkey. Teams can register now at

Released on 5 Aug 2014