Ready, willing & able

Doug Anderson, born with spina biffida, now presents a radio programme, Ready, Willing and Able on Radio Today every Sunday (12:00 - 13:00). His story starts where he was bored with work and “decided to do something a little different”. He made the first move towards a fascinating new career and opened up opportunities of reaching people with disabilities and those around them, and making a difference in their lives.

I had a job at a telemarketing company, but the manager had an issue with my disability and treated me like **** so I resigned, but it was there that a woman said to me I had a nice voice and I should be on radio or TV.

A few weeks later I saw an ad in the newspaper about a course run by professionals in the field. From the screen test I was short-listed to one of 12 people to do the course on Radio Presenting. When the opportunity came along to present a show on Radio Today, I jumped at it.

Now the show is “Ready, Willing and Able”, and we talk disability issues, and highlight disabled movers and shakers.

Here’s a short version of 26 years of the earlier life of Douglas John Anderson:
I was born in Welkom in 1977 with a condition called spina bifida, which simply means that certain vertebrae do not form properly leaving the spinal cord exposed at birth and there is paralysis at that point along the spine.

I had to be flown up to Joburg as there were no specialists in Welkom. I was also born with club feet, which is common with spina biffida sufferers, and with dislocated hips.

Doctors gave me a 2% chance of living, they said I would be a vegetable, they said I wouldn’t be educated, they said I would have no quality of life. Because the risk of death was so high, the doctors recommended they wait a few days before doing surgery, as the financial loss would be great. They did indeed wait a week, and then performed my first 12-hour operation on my brain. Close on three dozen operations later I am still “kicking”.

After some agonising experiences at schools which rejected me, my parents sent me to an able bodied school, but in the middle of Grade I was expelled on the basis of my disability – “I was a risk to the school should something like a fire break out…” I then went to Hope School, which catered for people with disabilities right through to matric. I matriculated HG with university entrance in 1996. I represented Southern Transvaal at the national championships 1989 – 1997 and South Africa at the World Wheelchair Games at Stoke Mandeville in 1996. I was also invited to the All African Invitational Games in 1995 and have seven bronze, 16 silver, 37 gold medals and numerous records. I have competed in many 21 km marathons.

I went to Wits University in 1997 at their College of Science where I did Biological Sciences, as I wanted to get into pharmacy. My health suffered after treatment from a homeopath I was inspired to do Homeopathy at Wits Tech.

Because of my disability, I was always close to the ground and I have always had a fascination for “creepy crawlies” By matric I had one of the largest collections of scorpions in the world and I had just about every species around the planet – the deadliest, the smallest, the largest. I came home one day in 2000 and said to my mother that I was starting my own business – the most logical thing was to open a pet store, which brings us back to the start of this story.

On the show Ready, Willing and Able my intentions are to increase awareness about disability issues and disabled people in general and to provide information and motivation to the disabled community.

I look for guests who are real “movers and shakers”, to inspire all listeners, the able ones as well as those with disabilities. Make contact – let’s talk: 083 285 8376 Doug@snakesalive.co.za

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