Warrnambool teenager, Heywire winner Michael McMahon with member for Wannon Dan Tehan at Parliament House in Canberra.AN inspiring story of determination and not letting a chronic illness get in the way of life has earned one local teenager a national youth prize.
Nanjing Night Net

Michael McMahon was selected as the south-west winner of the ABC’s Heywire competition, which encourages young people from regional Australia to tell it like it is.

The 17-year-old’s winning entry told of living with cystic fibrosis, and how his motto of never give up had kept him out of hospital and doing the things he loves.

He said living in a small community like Warrnambool had allowed him to try his hand at a range of different things that kept him active.

“I’ve always tried to make the most of everything I do. I’ve tried my hand at a few different things.

“This is part of the reason why I’m not like most other cystic fibrosis kids who simply don’t have the strength to get out of bed each day,” he said.

“And unlike most other CF kids I also don’t need the daily physio, regular check-ups and admissions to the wards,” he said.

The Brauer College student is a keen BMX rider, has tried his hand at mountain bike riding and each morning can be found rowing a boat on Lady Bay helping work local race horses.

The spectacular natural environment in Warrnambool also inspired Michael to pursue photography and a number of his photographs accompanied his Heywire entry.

“Apart from taking photos of bikes, I also love taking photos of wildlife and landscapes. I wouldn’t be able to do this if I didn’t live in a town like Warrnambool.”

His prize for winning the competition took him to Canberra, where he spent a week with other winners from across the country, discussing issues that affected their home towns.

He said the winners also pitched an idea to government officials and ABC staff, that would help overcome the issues they had highlighted.

“Our idea was to set up an exchange program that would see city kids come to the country, and vice-versa. The proposal is going through the draft process now and we have our fingers crossed that it gets funded,” he said.

Member for Wannon Dan Tehan congratulated Michael during a morning tea at Parliament House and said his story was inspiring.

“I encourage young people in Wannon to read his winning entry on the Heywire website,” Mr Tehan said.

“Keeping fit and active has helped Michael overcome some of the debilitating symptoms of cystic fibrosis, and through this he has found an interest in bikes and photography which looks like it may lead to a promising career.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.