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11 June 2020

Genice

Photo by Sean Davey

I didn’t find out about The Big Issue until I met Peter, who also sells the magazine. He told me about it when we got together. He helped train me, then I did it by myself when I got the confidence. I was born with an intellectual disability as well as my sight and a few other things. I can’t see out the side of my eyes. And I wear coloured glasses. I used to be able to drive and all that, but now I can’t and I use a cane, but I still get around. Nothing’s gonna stop me!

Peter and I have sold together at the same pitch – when we do it together one of us can have a break. It’s good to have that support, and it’s nice to have the company.

As soon as I met Peter I thought Yep, that’s my prince. He’s not going away from me! It was supposed to happen, I think. He wears the same glasses as I do. We fell in love. We got married at Queanbeyan Park three or four years ago.

The Big Issue gets you out of the house, and you get to see your regular customers. My regulars know that I’m a Special Olympics ice skater and swimmer. I represented Australia in both of my sports. I started skating when I was eight. My father took me to the rink once and I got hooked. I went to New Zealand in 2007 and won three gold medals. I have tickets on myself!

I gave up skating when I was 40. I got my dream, to go to the Olympics. Then I thought, I’ve done my dreams – what’s next? I already did swimming as a relaxing thing, then I just thought, I like the competing part – I’ll find out if there’s a Special Olympics for swimming too. And I did. I like the freedom. If you’ve had a bad day, you can just get in the water. In 2013 I represented Australia again, and won medals.

Peter’s supportive. He knows how much I get out of it and he’s always pleased with how well I do, especially since I can’t see the ropes or the black lines. And that’s how I am with ice skating, too. If you can’t see the markings on the ice or in the water, you have to put a picture in your head. And that’s basically how I live my life: I put a picture in my head of where things are, and I go for it. Sometimes I think it would be nice if people could see me on the ice or in the water, and see what I can do.

A Big Issue customer helped us move. We’re in a lovely palace, I call it. In a two‑bedroom house – it’s got a backyard, frontyard. It’s a lot bigger than where we were before, and a lot quieter. There’s a lot of room for our LEGO, and for my trophies as well.

I’m proud of finding my prince and getting married. If I didn’t find my prince, I wouldn’t have had the opportunities that I’ve had – I would still be homeless, and with that, a lot of things were bad – those things hurt me. But if you don’t go through those things, you don’t know what the other side’s like.

Interview by Melissa Fulton
Genice usually sells The Big Issue in Queanbeyan, NSW