Dave Jacka only has 6 percent body function, but he's 100 percent an inspiration.
Jacka's accomplishments include, but not limited to becoming the first quadriplegic to fly solo around Australia, receiving a Victoria's Pride of Australia Medal for Courage award, and representing Australia at the 1996 Paralympic Games.
"It was like any other day," Jacka says in the short interview documentary, Soar: The Quadriplegic Who Reached For The Sky, recalling the motorbike accident that paralyzed him from his armpits down at age 20. "The next thing you know I was lying beside the bike, and I couldn't move, and I could barely breathe. And I felt as though I was suffocating."
It wasn't until Jacka entered the hospital's rehab ward that he realized he had suffered a serious injury. "It's funny 'cause as I sat there, it suddenly dawned on me that I couldn't do anything, except sit there and stare at [the] wall," he says in the interview.
Jacka has zero finger, tricep or leg muscle function, making him a level C5-6 quadriplegic, which means that technically, with rehab, he may be able to feed himself and propel a wheelchair, but will always be dependent on others for transfers in and out of his chair, according to the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine's Health Library.
"Suddenly, you know, my mum, my dad, my sisters have to put me in the bed at night. If I had one wish, I just wished I could get myself out of the chair [and] in the bed, just to get a fraction of independence," he says. "I had to at least try."
So Jacka got to work. His first goal was to transfer himself from his wheelchair to his bed. In order to do so, Jacka explains, he broke down this grand goal into smaller, more obtainable steps, like getting just his legs onto the bed.
After two years, he "finally achieved my impossible goal...and suddenly, I didn't have any obstacles anymore," says Jacka. "I realized that I was only limited by what I thought I could do. If you say you can't do something well you're probably never going to. But if you say maybe, just maybe, and you give it a go, [that will] open up a whole new world of possibilities for you."
And that was the turning point.
At age 44, Jacka became the first quadriplegic to fly solo around Australia, a dream he'd had since he was a kid. In order pilot the plane, Jacka had to design his own modifications to the flying system. He uses a breathing tube to control the speed of the plane and his forearm to steer.
"We can all achieve so much...most people have no idea what their true potential is. And we're all limited by what we think we can do...I don't think I've reached the top...not yet."
Watch his full story, here.