Whitsunday BMX champion awarded Charlie Bell Scholarship
WHITSUNDAY BMX champion Kaelan Gough has ridden to success at national and international levels, but come February, he'll be swapping the bike for business.
Kaelan, 17, was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, a form of inflammatory bowel disease, at 11, then at 14, was diagnosed with a fistula requiring multiple surgeries.
He battled the autoimmune disease as well as life-threatening side-effects for six years and continues to travel to Brisbane for treatment every six weeks.
On Monday, January 21, he received the $5000 Charlie Bell Scholarship from Ronald McDonald House Charities, awarded for battling serious illness to pursue career goals.
Kaelan said the scholarship would support him as he started a Bachelor of Business Management at the University of Queensland this year.
"This scholarship will assist me in my career pursuits and relieve major financial stress for university," Kaelan said.
"My end goal is to branch out into the commerce side of things, perhaps as a financial analyst."
Kaelan said he was determined to push himself to continue achieving his goals, both BMX and business.
"BMX has always allowed me to re-focus and continue with what I'm doing instead of getting down in the dumps. I can continue to move forward and just take every day as it comes. It's like a natural remedy," he said.
"I strive to always be the best possible person I can be and represent the community that supports me with pride. I'll always push myself 110 per cent, to achieve anything I put my mind to and never give up."
RMHC's program manager Denise Lumsden said Kaelan's attitude struck the panel "from the very first read".
"He's got a really positive attitude. As well as managing the disease, Kaelan's had to endure a number of medical complications that has seen him having to travel regularly to Brisbane for treatment and also to manage some life-threatening side-effects of medication that he's taking," Ms Lumsden said.
"His journey has absolutely inspired us."