Karni Liddell has already established herself as one of Australia's most successful and well-respected Paralympic swimmers of our time, but Karni's journey to success began a lot differently than the typical elite athlete. She was diagnosed at birth with a degenerative muscle wasting disease called Spinal Muscular Atrophy. Many Doctors and specialists told her amazing parents that their first-born child would not walk, sit up or live past her teenage years. In fact many specialists told Terri and Jeff Liddell to make their daughter as comfortable as possible, as exercise only makes this condition worse. Karni's parents started her on a 'crazy' self-invented rehabilitation program which soon helped them realise that one of the greatest pleasures in life is achieving things people say can't be done!
Not only did Karni walk, she also established herself as one of the best swimmers in the world. Karni broke her first world record at the age of 14 and went into the Sydney Paralympic Games as the fastest woman in the world for all her events. Karni was also voted in by her teammates to be one of the Australian team captains.
Karni participated in many modeling photo shoots and magazines including a six-page bikini spread for Inside sport, a Paralympic body-painting calendar and Black and White magazine. Karni wanted people to understand that accidents and disability don't discriminate, that they choose beautiful people every single day. Karni's preparation for Sydney was extremely difficult and she realised during this time exactly what spinal muscular atrophy meant.
Karni's story is filled with 'edge of your seat' unbelievable drama and circumstances; more importantly, she demonstrates the power of belief and choice. Karni will have you crying one minute and laughing out loud the next. The triumph of the human spirit prevails in Karni's story.
Karni is now a presenter on 4BC radio and worked as a commentator at the Athens Paralympic Games, at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games and at the World Swimming Championships. More amazingly, Karni was employed by Westpac Bank to raise one million dollars for the Australian Paralympic team to go to Athens. The Australian team desperately needed the money; otherwise the team would have been downsized dramatically. Karni had a huge target and goal, to raise this sum in four months. With the help of the Westpac team Karni traveled the countryside telling her story and fundraising and after an epic tour she was able to give the Australian Paralympic team enough money for them all to experience the Paralympic dream.
Karni is the Ambassador for Clubs Queensland, Day of Difference Foundation, Muscular Dystrophy Association, Sporting Wheelies and Disabled Association and ACPET.
Karni demonstrates to everybody who hears her story that each and every one of us has a choice in life and that our choices should not be determined by our circumstances.
Client Comments for Karni Liddell
Karni Liddell travels from Queensland Australia
- Great positive feedback from attendees
Austar Entertainment Pty Ltd
- Karni Liddell is a fabulous speaker. I found her story fascinating particularly the level of dedication her parents have given. It never ceases to amaze me how through will and determination a person can achieve such great things.
Department of Education and the Arts
- Please accept our most sincere thanks for your presentation at our 2007 Business Forum on the Gold Coast. As a major supplier to the hairdressing industry we have produced many great conventions and forums and this has to be rated as one of the best. The delegates have expressed their gratitude and I know that as a result of their attendance and participation they will all be on track to increase effectiveness and grow their businesses.
Karni, your presentation generated great comments and was extremely well received by our delegates. Your professionalism and warmth coupled with your obvious passion for life and sport was the perfect way to conclude our session. All of our delegates were moved and motivated by your enthusiasm and never give in attitude. You were inspirational. Once again thank you for a job well done. I know that all of our delegates will remember their time in Queensland and your participation has guaranteed a greater business future for them.
Schwarzkopf Professional / Indola
- Karni Liddell has just concluded her speaking engagement at the ENERGEX Strategy & Finance Division meeting this afternoon. On behalf of everyone at ENERGEX that attended, we would like to give a heartfelt thanks to Karni for an absolutely inspirational and fantastic session. It is a credit to her that there was total rapt silence when she was speaking. Some of the comments that have been made to me are along the lines:
She is certainly the best speaker we have had in a long while
Uplifting and motivational
Once again, please pass on our appreciation to Karni for sharing her story with us today. I would have no hesitation in recommending Karni as a speaker.
- Brilliant inspiring speaker! Amazing to listen to her story... really helps put things into perspective.
- I have seen Karni Liddell speak 3 times now and it just gets better every time. I last used her to present to all my staff at our half yearly conference and she was again thought provoking and inspiring. Her session ran over by 1 hour as there were so many questions my staff wanted to ask her.
Karni makes everyone who listens to her realise that the small things they are sweating on are really not important in the big picture. She clearly inspires people just by passing on her story. How can people not be inspired to greater things after discovering the adversity she defeated. A great reality check for all my people.
- Karni had all of us in awe and there were tears in the audience at one point. She is an outstanding speaker, able to hold an audience and her presentation was very well designed, with short video inserts that were so good I - for one - had to shake my head in amazement at them.
Rotary Club of Burnie
- Karni was warm, inviting and had us crying and laughing at the same time! We have received wonderful feedback from her presentation. Karni was fantastic, and I have already sent Saxton's details to other faculties at UQ who would like her to attend their events!
University of Queensland
- Just to let you know that Karni was absolutely awesome this morning. How inspirational is she? Wow! She was there way before time, looked fantastic and mingled with the guests. I received comments after the function stating that Karni was 'the best speaker we have ever had at these breakfasts', that 'she is so witty and inspirational', 'truly inspired me to go out today and find something to do that people that know me would think that I could not do', and that she 'is so effective at making light of her situation but still getting a very powerful message across, that we cannot control everything so don't try to.' She truly is a professional and inspiring person. Thanks for allowing us to have time with her. I know where to look next time I need a motivational speaker, you will be hearing from me in the future.
Australian Management Institute
"Tamie and Nina are both very lovely ladies to work with."
National Disability Services
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