“Don’t judge me by my disability but give me an opportunity to show my ability. I hope I can communicate to people that anything is possible if you put your mind to it and are given an opportunity.”

That’s the message shared by Bravery Trek participant Talia Spooner-Stewart as she passes the halfway milestone of this year’s Bravery Trek.

Bravery Trek is a virtual challenge of 100km in 50 days. Talia is halfway to her goal having clocked up 55km as she enters the home stretch.

“I’ve been fortunate to have so much support from family, friends, my work colleagues, and my physio team along the way. Everyone has been incredibly generous and it’s given me extra motivation to be consistent– I’m just so grateful for everyone’s support. The support pushes me to keep going,” she said.

Talia was diagnosed with MS in 1998 and became wheelchair reliant five years ago. She says it was the opportunity to attend the Invictus Games in 2018 as a volunteer that inspired her to aim high and finds ways to continue sports and stay active.

“The Invictus Games changed everything. It was an eye-opener to what could be done. I had always thought “No, I can’t do that because I am in a wheelchair”– but the Invictus Games changed that, it changed my mindset to focus on what I can do instead,” she said.

Talia has been cycling and wheeling her way to 100km and she’s been able to add weekly swimming sessions to her tally. Although not a veteran herself, Talia works at Leidos Australia with veterans as colleagues and customers. Leidos is a Foundation Partner of Bravery Trek and values a culture to support those who have served our country.

“Leidos’ commitment to the veteran community, and a key value of inclusion, is why I went to the Invictus Games in the first place – they were able to offer me that opportunity. Leidos is why I’m participating in Bravery Trek … I’ve had a few really big donations and it has surprised me. I really do appreciate everyone’s support,” Talia said.

“I don’t ask others for help very often but this event is so important and the messaging to support veterans is so important.

“As a community we are generous, and people support lots of charities, but the messaging about veterans can get lost in that. They have made the bravest sacrifice to support our freedom and we can all do more to support veterans when they need some assistance.”

A quick check of Talia’s socials shows that she’s been bombarded with messages of support, and there’s repeated use of the word “inspirational” by her supporters – it’s something she accepts with humility.

“If my actions can inspire others I’ll embrace it – and knowing the impact that the Invictus Games had on me, if my efforts can help change people’s mindsets and empower them to live a better life – I’m fine with whatever words they call me – as long as it helps others!”

Donate or send a message of support to Talia at www.braverytrek.com.au/talia-spooner-stewart. Funds raised support the work of national military charity Bravery Trust to provide financial aid and financial counselling to veterans who been injured during service and face hardship. Learn more at www.braverytrust.org.au

Bravery Trust is a registered business name of the Australian Defence Force Assistance Trust, a nationally registered charity.