Motorcycle Engineering Innovations for Disabled


Published 2009-10-18 -- Building a hand-controlled motorcycle suitable for a paraplegic rider.

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A paraplegic's wish to ride a motorbike led to a foundation that builds engineering innovations for people with disabilities. With the help of pro bono business coaching, the Dreamfit Foundation will be able to further sustain its rapid growth.

Riding with No Limits: Engineering Innovations for the Disabled Taken to New Heights

A paraplegic's wish to ride a motorbike led to a foundation that builds engineering innovations for people with disabilities. With the help of pro bono business coaching, the Dreamfit Foundation will be able to further sustain its rapid growth.

A mechanical engineering student was looking for a third year assignment when a chance meeting with a fellow motor bike enthusiast changed a University project into a life-long mission.

Darren Lomman met and immediately connected with Shane Thompson, who had become a paraplegic after an accident. Thompson had been a motocross champion and his whole life, had revolved around motorcycles.

The turning point came when one day Thomson told Lomman if he could have just one wish, it would be to ride a motorcycle again.

Inspired by Shane's dream, Lomman took up the challenge to build a hand-controlled motorcycle suitable for a paraplegic rider.

"Darren's motorcycle project began to attract media attention and other people with disabilities began contacting him for help to live their dreams," Business Development Leader Anna Sobczyk said.

Lomman soon made a commitment to build an organization focused on helping people with disability to live their dreams, and overcome the many challenges and frustrations they face on a daily basis.

This was the beginning of the Dreamfit foundation.

From its humble beginnings in 2003, this organization has rapidly grown and has since evolved into a not-for-profit Foundation. Dreamfit Foundation is focused on engineering innovative equipment solutions, which give people with disability greater freedom and independence.

"Our equipment solutions provide people with a disability new opportunities to participate in recreational pursuits like surfing, abseiling, hovercrafting, boating and cycling," Sobczyk said.

Dreamfit's engineering solutions are custom designed by dedicated engineering student volunteers who give their time and knowledge to develop ground-breaking projects. The students receive course credit for their project work through The University of Western Australia (UWA).

The students are also supported by experienced industry mentors who guide them in their transition from a university setting to working on "real world" projects.

"The students benefit through the development of their workplace skills in areas such as project management and planning, budgeting, team building, and communication skills," Sobczyk said. "Working on our projects also exposes them to the notion of community service, and using their talents and skills for the benefit of others."

Over 200 organizations have been involved in supporting and sponsoring Dreamfit's projects.

With an extremely rapid growth rate, moving from a 36m backyard shed to a 1500m industrial facility over the last five years, and an average growth of over 300% a year, Dreamfit's major challenge has been managing this rapid growth and ensuring sustainability.

The winner of the 2009 St George Bank Small Business Mentor Program sponsored by ActionCOACH in Australia, the foundation caught the attention of Business Coach Zoe Lamont; who has been helping them become sustainable since.

"I was one of the coaches who helped facilitate the winners so I met Darren at the winners' two-day workshop," Lamont said. "So when ActionCOACH announced its first global cause-related campaign to help the charitable and non-profit sector of the world, I decided Dreamfit would be a perfect and well deserved charity for the free coaching opportunity."

Lunched by the world's leading business and executive coaching firm, Coaching for a Cause, is ActionCOACH's global pro bono coaching program for non-profits and charities across the world. The overall goal is to raise at least an additional $2.5 million in donations over a six-month period from October 1, 2009 through March 31, 2010.

Lamont joined hundreds of top Business Coaches from around the world and pledged to donate coaching hours to deserved organizations. The combined value of the service provided through this program globally is over 1.8 million.

"Dreamfit are at an interesting stage right now. The organization has reached a point where there is more need for their offering than they can possibly provide so they are spending a year building an amazing engineering complex and setting up a sustainable long and short-term strategy to be kicked off next year," Lamont said.

Amongst their other goals to create long-term sustainability for the organization, Dreamfit aim at having $300k+ funding secured to set up the Dream Catcher Program, a pilot program, which aims at identifying the dreams, frustrations and challenges of people living with disability, in particular, children living with disability.

"We plan on having an engineering training program and initial design concepts decided on for 50-150 engineering students to go through and work on during 2010," Sobczyk said. "We also plan on getting a solid team, a clear financial projection, understanding of needs and appropriate funding considered for 2010 onward."

Dreamfit Foundation's mission is to create a world where having a disability doesn't hold someone back from achieving their dreams.

"Darren's ten-year vision for the organization is to replicate the Dreamfit model internationally so more people living with disability are given the opportunity to live their dreams through Dreamfit's engineering solutions, which includes establishing partnerships with universities worldwide with the Foundation offering student internships at an Undergraduate, Masters and PhD level," Sobczyk said. "Another key goal for the Foundation is to move beyond research and development and begin taking our engineering innovations into the marketplace."

Coaching for a Cause is an innovative, new program from ActionCOACH, the world's number one business and executive coaching firm that makes pro-bono coaching available to charities and non-profits worldwide. To learn more, go to or subscribe to RSS news feeds at

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