Affiliated with Flight Centre since 1997, Victor Vermeulen has been conducting motivational sessions for the travel brand at key events for many years.
Vermeulen is now their motivational speaker and counsellor, and as Disability Awareness Month is honoured in December, the brand has been contemplating his role over the past few months in creating a very special and unique role for himself, assisting his colleagues.
As the awareness month promotes an understanding of disability issues and the gains to be derived from the integration of persons with disabilities in every aspect of the social and economic life of their workplace and communities, it’s an ideal time to celebrate his work and life.
Vermeulen is certainly someone who can shed some unusual perspectives on life’s trials and tribulations.
Vermeulen was 19 years old when he dove into a swimming pool and hit the bottom of the pool, breaking his neck.
He was paralysed instantly.
“This was a very hard time for my mom and I, because just a few months before my accident my father had been shot and killed. I didn’t want to die and leave my mom alone,” explains Vermeulen.
At the time of his accident, his future was looking promising. He was rated as the best up and coming cricket player in 1993, and played for SA’s under 19 team.
“On the way to the hospital I lapsed into a week long coma. When I awoke, I made a conscience choice from the beginning that I need to make the best of my situation, but it’s a daily choice and daily struggle.”
Vermeulen decided to become a motivational speaker at the age of 23. “My friends told me that I motivate them daily and I should use that to my advantage to motivate others.
I started out by talking to a youth group at a church and that was basically the start of my career,” he says. He has travelled all over South Africa as well as America and Canada, inspiring others with his talks. He was also able to write his own book, titled The Victor Within, which released in 2000, selling 75 000 copies.
He explains, “I’m here to provide a different perspective to the travel group’s staff and allow them to chat openly with me when they need to, but I definitely don’t have all the answers. I had to work through a lot and find myself too. I always tell people that it’s not a problem if it can be fixed. Hopefully, that allows them to look at things differently,” says Vermeulen
“I love being part of a greater corporate family and I feel at home here. It’s good for me to keep my mind busy and help others as much as I can. I hope I can keep making a difference in others’ lives and make people smile."