Stefan leaves obstacles in his wake after setting his sights on success
STEFAN TARGETS INTERNATIONAL DREAM AFTER CONQUERING THE MURRAY RIVER, despite having cerebral palsy. His eyes are set on the 2024 Paralympics, and we have no doubt he’ll make it.
When it comes to achieving his goals, Stefan Noto leaves any perceived obstacles in his wake.
Stefan was born with cerebral palsy, and after learning to walk when the odds were stacked against him, has had “more surgeries than he can count”, in leg lengthening, arm straightening and on his wrists.
But he won’t let anything hold him back.
“When I achieve a goal, I’m always striving for the next one,” Stefan said.
“I don’t like being limited by disability, so I’m always trying to achieve the goals I set my mind to.”
STEFAN’S DEDICATION SPEAKS FOR ITSELF
When he’s not working as a draftsperson and estimator, or assisting people with a disability to find work, the Feros Care and National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) participant is on the water wakeboarding, driving his speedboat, or at the shooting range.
“Catching the bug” for shooting in 2012 after being inspired by his younger brother, Stefan is aiming for the stars, as he sets his sights on wearing the green and gold for Australia in Clay Target Shooting.
“I used to watch my brother compete. He was a junior champion at our local club and some of the members said, ‘why don’t you compete?’” Stefan explained.
“I said, ‘I don’t think I can’, and they said, ‘don’t let that stop you’, so they took me out and I caught the bug and haven’t stopped since.
“My main target now is to qualify for the Australian Para Clay Target Team in Olympic Trap shooting at the 2024 Paralympics in Paris.”
Competing at national level to get the scores required to gain Australian selection, Stefan is one of only three for his classification at that level, and the only South Australian to compete in shotgun class at a national level Paralympics.
Reaching his goals is a non-negotiable for Stefan, who joined the NDIS in 2016, and he’s been setting and achieving his aims ever since.
While he’s now fully focussed on Paris, Stefan has achieved major goals over the last two years, after driving his own speedboat at a charity event on the Murray River in 2019 to raise money to help kids with disabilities.
Not content to stop there, Stefan set his sights on raising the bar to compete in the five-day Murray River Run in November of last year, in both driving his boat and wakeboarding.
“I love being out on the water, I’ve always loved swimming, and I had grown up watching my cousins’ wakeboard, so I wanted to give it a real go,” he said.
Through his NDIS plan organised with Feros Care Local Area Coordinator (LAC) Olivia Hoogenhout, Stefan was able to access and train with NDIS physiotherapy provider, Novita, to strengthen the muscles he would need to stay up on the wakeboard.
“One of my first goals with NDIS was to learn how to wakeboard. My physio at that time, Josh, had to come up with new and creative ways to target muscles I’d be using to get up on a wakeboard,” Stefan explained.
“A couple of times I ended up taking the wakeboard into where I was training, and he ended up strapping me onto the board and putting me on a wobble disk. It mimicked being on water, then he’d kick the board in different ways, so I could learn how to counteract my balance.”
Stefan also linked up with SA School of Wake president Dani Lambert, who offered to teach Stefan.
“It took a while to work out my balance and my coordination seemed to have a mind of its own. But with sheer determination and endless persistence, seven months later I was up,” he said.
Stefan also needed to modify his speedboat to allow him to fully achieve his goal, and he was able to access NDIS funding to make the required modifications. “Because of the right side of my body, driving for long periods of time wasn’t ideal, so a mechanic suggested a cruise control system, and Olivia helped with that approval and I got that put in the boat,” Stefan said.
“It meant I could drive the boat in the River Run, so when I wasn’t pulled behind on the wakeboard, I was driving.”
Stefan, now 25, believes he’s come a long way since almost slipping through the cracks when entering adulthood.
THE POSITIVE IMPACT OF THE NDIS ON PARTICIPANTS’ LIVES
While eternally grateful to his parents, who insisted on early intervention and accessing support services when he was a young child, Stefan believes he wouldn’t be where he is today without Feros Care.
“I’m very grateful to the NDIS as before it, I got lost in the system and had no support after I reached 18,” Stefan said.
“It gave me a better appreciation and the services I get now have made a big difference. I saw myself on a decline, but now having physio and the other stuff the NDIS helps me with, I’m able to do a lot more than before those services.”
Now aiming for a bullseye while representing Australia on foreign shores, Stefan is far from done, and plans on achieving more goals post 2024.
Wanting to inspire others, he said there’s no limit to what can be achieved for him or anyone else.
“I’d be very honoured to wear the green and gold for Australia and bring back a medal for them,” Stefan said.
“I want to say, look, don’t let a disability put you down you can achieve so much, and if people can get inspiration from what I’m doing, then that’s great.”