TONY Lineham and wife Kate have discovered first-hand how much of a role wheelchair rugby has played in the lives of Ryley Batt and Andrew Edmondson.
Now, they hope a program aimed at giving children an opportunity to play sport shouldn't depend on whether they are in a wheelchair or not.
"My husband trains Ryley and Andrew and we've been getting to know the boys and been good mates for a while now," Mrs Lineham said.
"We've found out through them how much of a role wheelchair rugby has played in their lives."
The first step will be to secure enough state government funding that will allow them to purchase 10 wheelchair rugby chairs in the hope of starting the program early next year.
"We don't really have enough opportunities in Port Macquarie for kids that have disabilities and a wheelchair shouldn't be something that holds them back."
The program will be held in the Port Macquarie Indoor Stadium and run for an hour of an afternoon throughout a school term.
Batt and Edmondson will be mentors for those who attend depending on their international schedule.
"The idea is the kids that have a disability will come in and they can bring a mate," Mrs Lineham said.
"That can be a best friend from school, big brother, mum, dad, cousin and that friend can be in a wheelchair or not.
"We feel that it could be an opportunity for kids to feel empowered and feel like they get the same chance as everybody else.
"Just because you're a kid in a chair doesn't mean you should have to miss out on that."
To secure the funding, the program needs to receive the most public votes by midnight on August 15.
"We're after about $120,000 which will cover the cost of a set of 10 rugby wheelchairs.
"They're really expensive and we have to get them manufactured overseas and then shipped to Australia."
Visit https://mycommunityproject.service.nsw.gov.au/projects and search for Wheelers- Mid North Coast Wheelchair Rugby to cast your vote.
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