Janine Shepherd’s story reads like the plot of a Hollywood movie. A champion cross-country skier in training for the Winter Olympics, her life was irrevocably altered on a training bike ride in the Blue Mountians. A truck hit Janine Shepherd and shattered her body as well as her dream.
Doctors warned her parents that she was not expected to survive her injuries. Even if by some small chance she recovered, she would never walk again. Janine Shepherd's hopes of being an elite sportsperson were gone.
Healing her body and her spirits became Janine Shepherd's new goal. Coming to terms with her shattered Olympic dreams, refusing to believe what expert medical staff were telling her about her chances of any kind of recovery, Janine Shepherd focused every sinew of her being on healing her broken body and crushed morale.
Today, Janine Shepherd is a motivational speaker in high demand. She travels extensively in Australia and overseas sharing her story with others.
Champion cross-country skier
Janine Shepherd was a champion cross-country skier in training for the Winter Olympics when her life was suddenly and irrevocably altered during a training bicycle ride to the Blue Mountains. A truck hit Janine Shepherd and shattered her body as well as her dream of Olympic representation.
Her neck and back were broken in four places, and her right arm, collarbone and five ribs were fractured. Her right leg had been ripped open; she had sustained head injuries and massive internal injuries. She had severe lacerations to her abdominal area and had lost five litres of blood. The bleeding alone was enough to kill her.
Doctors warned her parents that she was not expected to survive her ordeal. Even if by some small chance she recovered, she would never walk again.
Determination and courage
But Janine Shepherd had a determination and courage that were crucial to her survival. Coming to terms with her shattered Olympic dreams, refusing to believe what expert medical staff were telling her about her chances of any kind of recovery, Janine Shepherd focused every sinew of her being on healing her broken body and crushed morale.
A fighting spirit was rekindled in Janine Shepherd as she watched small planes flying overhead. She made a decision: “If I can’t walk, I’ll fly." And fly she did. While still covered in a full body plaster cast, Janine Shepherd was lifted into an aircraft for her first flight. That moment changed her life forever.
Private pilot's licence
Within a year Janine Shepherd had her private pilot’s licence. Despite remaining a partial paraplegic and with many physical challenges still ahead, she battled on to gain her commercial pilot's licence, her Instrument Rating, her Twin Engine Rating and her Instructors Rating. Janine Shepherd then went on to become a fully qualified aerobatics instructor.
Pushing the limits
Pushing the limits became familiar to Janine Shepherd. While she gained her flying credentials, she also pushed her body to mend itself, forcing her legs to walk again, step by painful step. Although doctors said she would never have children, Janine believes her greatest achievement is the three young children she now has. Janine Shepherd has since gone on to finish her University degree in Physical Education.
Defying the odds
Janine Shepherd’s story of defying the odds and winning is both moving and inspiring. The title of her best selling book, 'Never Tell Me Never' says it all. Janine has since written two more books, ‘Dare to Fly’, which was prompted by overwhelming public reaction to her first book, and ‘Reaching for Stars’. Janine Shepherd’s autobiographies have become classics in the survivor genre and have been best-sellers. Janine’s life story has been recently made into a feature film, also entitled 'Never tell Me Never', starring well known Australian actress Claudia Karvan. The story of her journey to hell and back is inspiring and uplifting.
A multiple award winner, Janine Shepherd was named as one of only ten recipients of the ‘Outstanding Young Persons of the World’ award for 1998 from Junior Chamber International and in 1999 was named as Australian Achiever by the National Australian Day Council. Janine was named in the 2001 Australia Day honours list when she was appointed as a Member in the General Division of the Order of Australia.
Board member of CASA
Janine Shepherd has served on the board of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), the youngest and only female director. She is also the patron of the Australasian Spinal Research Trust and is committed to helping find a cure for spinal cord injury in the near future.
Countless Australians have been captivated by the inspiring story of this remarkable young woman and her story of incredible courage and strength. It is a testament to the power of the human spirit and one that will move and inspire all.
• Never Tell Me Never: Embracing Adversity and Change
• Don't Bounce Back, Bounce Forward: Strategies for Cultivating Resilience
• A Broken Body is not a Broken Person
• The Gift of Acceptance: Letting Go of the Life You Had, to Get the Life That is Waiting For You
• Living Well After Injury, Illness and Trauma
"Janine is a change agent. She has an extraordinary ability to ignite people's spirits and move them to find the real potential of their lives; her story inspires people around the world"
“Stunning - Janine had 700 of us in love with her - She knocked us for six".
“Excellent...Janine’s presentation was an inspiration to all who attended."
“Excellent...Rated 8.9 and our highest rated presenter. Inspirational and genuine."
Institute of Municipal Management
“Excellent...Janine captivated her audience with the horror of her experience and the triumph of her spirit."
Dexion Pty Ltd
“Excellent. She was outstanding and inspirational. Best speaker for helping our team believe anything is possible."
“Excellent. An extremely motivational and inspirational person who captivated a very diverse audience. A very relaxed and humorous style helped present a story of courage, determination and a 'never tell me never' attitude."
“Excellent. She had them laughing, crying and thinking about their lives. She was the best motivational speaker we’ve ever had."
Dick Smith Electronics
“Excellent. Janine was a fabulous presenter and one of the best we have used for our conferences. She was certainly inspirational and motivational."
Le Reve Pty Ltd
“Excellent. Standing ovation, not a dry eye in the house. People have changed the way they approach life after listening to Janine. Inspirational."
Effem Foods Pty Ltd
“Excellent. Janine was a very inspiring speaker to listen to. We got great feedback from our clients. She sent shivers through my body with her amazing story of tragedy and triumph."
“Excellent. Janine moved everyone in the room as she was an inspiration to all that had the pleasure to hear her."
Pharmacia Australia Pty Ltd
“Excellent. Janine has to be the most inspiring and positive person I have heard. To have survived and succeeded as she has is truly amazing."
Ray White Corporate
“Excellent. Janine was an inspiration to us all. Her story was one of bravery against all odds, she is an extraordinary person.
“Janine was fantastic. An amazing person, with an inspirational story. Made us all think about the things we should be trying to achieve."
Conference of Major Super Fund
“Excellent. Our specialist provided an excellent presentation for our evenings. Janine held the crowd for over an hour with her autobiographical speech with spots of positive wisdom throughout."
“Absolutely fantastic, A great story and a great person. Very accommodating and related well to everyone. Only to happy to recommend her to others."
Health Industry Plan
“Janine was very accommodating and easy going with regard to what we wanted. She showed interest in her target audience and how to tailor her talk for maximum effect. Janine was a most refreshingly genuine and she engaged our customers at our table in a wide and varied discussion. She has a wonderfully infectious sense of humour coupled with her personality, making her a person who inspires people to have a great time. We certainly did!!"
“The response from the Community of Cowra & District was overwhelming. Janine’s presentation was both motivational and inspirational to all who attended the night. Janine had the audience crying and laughing throughout her presentation. It was a good night to reflected on our own lives."
Cowra Regional Advisory Service
"Janine had the whole room enthralled - her story is undeniably epic, and her delivery is animated and engaging. While not a business speaker, she clearly had a message to give which was relevant to all of us in both our personal and working lives: Go ahead and do what you want to do - never let anyone tell you never, never let the odds dissuade you from trying, and learn to love the challenge. There were tears and laughter, and we loved every minute."