Back From the Dead

Attitude is everything in life and Gold Coast man Warren Kruger and his partner Kati Valente are shinning examples of how a positive attitude can overcome the most challenging situations.

If you are a regular exercising or enjoying the cafes and restaurants at beautiful Paradise Point on the northern Gold Coast, you’ll often see Warren in his wheelchair being pushed along by his partner of eight years Kati,on her sparkly roller-skates, usually travelling fairly quickly with the music booming out and the beaming, infectious smiles on their faces.

Kati reckons they are both a bit crazy and Warren, or Waz as he’s affectionately known, said they motivate each other and in their life together to date, they are certainly willing to give things a crack.

Almost 20 years ago, Warren suffered horrendous spinal injuries playing on a friends childs pool slide at a party and but for the alertness of a mates young daughter at the party, he wouldn’t be with us today.

Warren had gone down the slide, hit the bottom, broke his C-4, C-5 and C-6 spinal joints, become instantly paralysed and had basically drowned.

However the alertness of the child in seeing Warren motionless at the bottom of the pool and getting help quickly undoubtedly saved him and he was brought back to life with CPR.

As he explains, being a rally car racer, water skier and Enduro motorcycle racer prior to his accident, he was participating in potentially dangerous sports and he finds it ironic what confined him to a wheelchair.

“Everybody has challenging times at a different level. Just another day for me. Different perspective. You see a lot of people with everything but wasting it. The reality is everything is in our heads, that’s where it starts.”

“I made a mistake. A momentary lapse of judgement on a kids waterslide and drowned. I did all the dangerous stuff and it was a kids toy that brought me down”, he said with a chuckle. “Be careful of those kids toys.”

Faced with his life changing situation confined to a wheelchair, Warren said it was difficult, but he refused to get negative about it. “It’s definitely challenging when you can’t do this, you can’t do that, but it’s like anything. It’s all your state of mind. If you think about it the right way you can overcome it. I’m a determined person.

“Everybody has challenging times at a different level. Just another day for me. Different perspective. You see a lot of people with everything but wasting it. The reality is everything is in our heads, that’s where it starts.”

Warren and Kati had known each other for many years before they became partners and hooked up by chance on a social outing. The night they met up and became a couple is still fresh in Kati’s mind and it was all pretty hectic from there. “We had known each other for 30 years and we were out on a Friday night and just by chance ran into each other.

“Warren asked was I interested in travelling and that’s exactly what I wanted to do. He contacted me on Tuesday and said, do you want to go to Spain. We left for Spain on Thursday. I think it was that crazy factor that was the attraction.”

Prior to the covid pandemic halting most international travel, the couple had already visited 30 countries and can’t wait to resume their globe trotting when travel is allowed. They’ve had their thrills and spills rollerskating around, some worse than others and one time Warren almost went up in flames, as Kati explained. “His wheelchair caught fire on a pedestrian crossing the main street at Paradise Point. Had a bit of a short in the electrics, blew the electronics to bits. I was screaming for a fire extinguisher so the Real Estate dude comes out of his office with one as the cars are backing up down the road.” She reckons Warren would have tried switching it on and driving the 800m to their home if she hadn’t have stopped him.

“This is my full-time job (caring for Warren and pursuing her art skills). I don’t want the secret to get out about what a good gig I’ve got. If only people knew how amazing, gorgeous and glamorous caring can be.” Being in a wheelchair puts everything into perspective for Warren. “Everyone chases a dollar in life these days but in reality, chasing a lifestyle is where it’s at. Get out there and have fun.” That pretty much sums up this beautiful inspiring couple.

Interview & Words by John Alexander | Header Image taken by Tony Stretch. Supporting Images sourced by Absolutely Famous.

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