Adam Eyles is a cystic fibrosis champion who is breaking down barriers for those suffering with the disease. After competing in the TV show Australian Ninja Warrior last year, Adam continues to make his mark by taking part in charity events, most recently in a local fundraiser run called ‘Great Strides’. He says he doesn’t do it for himself.
Adam is a Health Safety and Environment advisor who lives with his wife and two kids in North Brisbane. He gained national attention last year by competing in the Australian Ninja Warrior, a competition that sees participants navigate a series of obstacles. The show is notorious for its difficulty, with those competing in the show being at peak physical condition and training for months in preparation. Adam did all this with only 72% function of his lungs, a symptom of his cystic fibrosis.
In Australia today, one in 25 people are carriers of the CF gene. Adam considers himself an activist on the issue, but he has also acknowledged that he is one of the lucky ones.
“I’m one of the really lucky people with CF, my lung function was about 72 per cent when I was trying out for Ninja Warrior, a lot of people with CF are you know, between 20 per cent and 50 per cent lung function. So you know, even when they’re well, they wouldn’t have the capacity to do this stuff,” he said.
Adam’s rigorous training routine included swimming to help clear his airways, gymnastics, running, and parkour. During his training for Ninja Warrior, he was waking up about 4.30am to begin his training. Even though Ninja Warrior is over, he continues to live a healthy lifestyle, partly out of necessity – it was once thought Adam wouldn’t live to the age of 10.
“My mum was told when I was born that I wouldn’t live to be 10. When I was in my teens she was told I wouldn’t live to be 20. When I was 20 you know the chances of getting to 40 were pretty slim, but here I am at 43 with greater than 70% lunch function, and going on things like Ninja Warrior and going on charity runs,” he said.
Despite not qualifying for this year’s Ninja Warrior, he says he will continue to lead by example and help raise awareness of the disease. He recently took part in the Redcliffe CF charity run Great Strides.
The driving force behind the Great Strides fundraiser walk-a-thon, Petrina Fraccoro, who is also the CEO of CF Queensland, described the impact of the disease on people’s lives.
“CF is a complex genetic disease – impacting the airways and lungs, pancreas and endocrine system, sweat glands and reproductive organs,” she said. “Most do not live past their 20s.”
Petrina says charity events such as Great Strides highlight a major issue within government “There is no designated government funding for people living with cystic fibrosis nor is there a cure,” she said.
Cystic Fibrosis Queensland continues to help fund national research projects on CF.
Adam spoke to D*scribe more in depth about his experience, in particular, trying to get another chance on the show.