On 19 October 2017, SWS Lawyers welcomed Australian Olympian Scott Westcott and Paralympian Katie Kelly as special guests at its annual function for clients, colleagues and friends of the firm. Enigma’s Brett Lavaring hosted a ‘Q & A’ session with Katie and Scott, which was thoroughly enjoyed by more than 100 guests. SWS also announced donations to two charities on the night with the objective of supporting regional children and children with a disability to participate and engage in sport.
Guests were privileged to hear Katie and Scott’s inspiring journeys to the top of their respective sporting disciplines. Katie, an Australian paratriathlete who has a degenerative disease known as Usher syndrome, described her journey to the Rio Paralympic Games. She won the gold medal at Rio with her triathlon guide, Michellie Jones (Silver Medal, Sydney Olympics, Women’s Triathlon). Scott, an understated ‘40-something year old father of three’, fascinated the crowd by describing how he lived his childhood dream of qualifying for the men’s marathon at the Rio Olympic Games, despite his ‘delicate age’ and having to overcome the odd ‘administrative barrier’ along the way.
Of particular interest to our guests was the emphasis placed by both athletes on the need for support and a team to enable them to realise their personal success. Katie described the support she has always enjoyed from family, colleagues and sporting associations. Katie’s charity, Sport Access Foundation, is an extension of her values and her attitude. It is focused on giving financial support to children with a disability so that they can participate in sport.
Similarly, Scott made the point that people around the athlete sacrifice as much as the athlete themselves – in terms of time, administration, managing daily routines and funding what he described as sometimes ‘crazy’ behaviour. In addition to coaching young runners, Scott manages the Fearnley Dawes Athletic Centre and has a particular focus on ensuring primary school aged children gain access to the best athletics facilities available.
Our guests were also struck by the honesty, humility and approachability of both athletes. Scott recalled the conversation he had with Katie when she was declared legally blind by her Opthalmologist. Katie told Scott that she was ‘excited’ as she has since spoken to Triathlon Australia who told her about the opportunity to potentially compete as a Paratriathlete in the vision impaired classification with the Rio Paralympics in mind. Similarly, Katie recalled the first time she met Scott, was as he was attempting to break the Newcastle Blue Track Marathon record, which he did! She stood by the track and cheered as Scott passed, lap after lap. Eventually they would catch up in a more social setting over coffee, and Scott recalled how he always remembered this vocal person cheering him on the whole time.
SWS Managing Principal, Richard Suters, said:
“Katie and Scott were both amazingly giving and honest in their descriptions of how hard it is to make it to the Olympics and in their desire to support children participate in sport. We approached Katie and Scott to meet our friends and clients, and to support their respective charities and endeavours, because they mirror the values that SWS thinks are critical in our lawyers and in dealing with our day to day business.”
SWS Lawyers is supporting Katie’s charitable foundation, Sport Access Foundation. SWS is also supporting the newly refurbished Fearnley Dawes Athletic Centre at Newcastle West which Scott administers on behalf of the committee. Its donations will help Katie and Scott ensure that sport continues to play a pivotal role in the lives of young athletes, including athletes with disabilities and in particular regional kids as they work towards their personal goals.
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