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Invictus Games inspires student to fight for veterans

A wounded war veteran’s story has given a teenager a new perspective on her own disabilities.

Rachel and Hannah

Hannah Heron with Invictus athlete Rachel Kerrigan and student Emily Clark (left).

When Holsworthy High School student Hannah Heron visited the Invictus Games education project last year she had no idea it would change her life.

That life-altering experience came when Hannah, who lives with anxiety and a disability, by chance met Australian Invictus athlete Rachel Kerrigan.

Ms Kerrigan, an Afghanistan war veteran, turned to sport after a stress-induced stroke in 2013 left her unable to use the left side of her body. She now competes in wheelchair basketball and powerlifting and uses sport to manage her anxiety and depression. While Ms Kerrigan’s athletic success was itself remarkable, Hannah also discovered she had worked three jobs to pay her way to the 2016 Invictus Games.

It was this financial struggle to compete that motivated Hannah to create Hannah’s Project – Invictus, a fundraising initiative supported by Holsworthy High School.

“Meeting Rachel has changed my life and I want to inspire my fellow students to support our veterans and recognise their contribution to sport and the community,” Hannah said.

“The aim of Hannah’s Project – Invictus is to support athletes by raising funds that can be used to pay for training or equipment for the 2020 Invictus Games and beyond.

“By doing this I hope we can provide athletes with a practical form of support to pursue an activity that helps veterans maintain their mental wellbeing and find purpose following their injuries.”

Ms Kerrigan will be the first athlete to receive financial support through the project and today shared her story during an assembly at Holsworthy High School to help the community understand the value of the Invictus Games for veterans.

“Rachel is supporting me to actively experience sport for the first time in my life and I would like to give back to Rachel by helping her achieve her dream of competing in the 2020 Invictus Games,” Hannah said.

“Rachel lives with anxiety like I do but she doesn’t let it control her life, and I hope that sharing her story will inspire other students and give them the confidence to try new things

“Hannah’s Project – Invictus builds on Holsworthy High School’s existing relationship with the Australian Defence Force and is an opportunity for our students to show veterans that we value their contribution to sport and the community.”

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