Real Life

REAL LIFE: "I proposed after three weeks of dating!"

Diagnosed with cerebral palsy as a baby Tristan, 40, was told he won't live past his teen years, so when he found love he didn't waste time.

By Courtney GReatrex

Tristin Condon, 40, Coffs Harbour, NSW shares his story:

A bead of sweat dripped off my 
nose and onto the ground below me.
"98, 99, 100," I wheezed as 
I counted my push-ups before collapsing to the floor.
I was trying to raise money for the children's charity Variety and had vowed to do 10,000 push-ups over 31 days.
Some people thought it was extreme, but for me it was totally worth it.
Variety Queensland had supported me since my childhood.
As a baby, I'd been diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy, a condition that impacts muscle tone, movement, and motor skills.
Doctors told my parents I'd never walk, talk or live into my teen years.
But as I grew up, Mum 
and Dad never placed any limitations on my potential and I excelled as a result, learning to talk and even walk with the help of two walking sticks.
Many kids with my condition were sent to specialist schools, but Mum refused and enrolled me in the local catholic school.
"My little boy is just like any other kid," she told my teachers defiantly.
At high school, it was tough at first. Many teachers didn't believe I belonged at a place that specialised in sports.
But I got involved by managing the rugby, swimming and water polo teams, which meant I could still contribute and feel like part of the culture.
When I reached Year Nine, Variety bought me a laptop, which helped me with all my exams. Afterwards, I studied business and law at uni and got a job at a top bank.
Then, I focused on finding love, signing up to the online dating site Plenty of Fish.
Scrolling through, I wasn't sure what to expect.
A beautiful woman called Balinda popped up on my screen.
Hi Balinda, nice to meet you, I wrote to her.
She didn't want to chat on the phone but I sent her my number in case she changed her mind.
Next day, I was stunned to get a text from her.
Do you wanna chat? I offered.
Our wedding day was perfect Image: Supplied
Sure, she replied.
We spoke for over two hours and arranged to meet up in a few weeks.
Balinda was studying pharmacy and wanted to focus before her mid-term break.
But as I hung up, I realised I didn't want to wait that long so I phoned her back.
"What are you doing right now?" I asked.
"Nothing," she admitted. So we met up that night and spent more hours chatting.
Hearing about her life, it struck me that Balinda was an extremely strong person, and her resilience really resonated with me.
Next night, we deleted the dating app together and chatted for hours again.
After that, I couldn't get Balinda out of my head, 
and wanted to spend all 
my time with her.
She was interesting, adventurous and we made 
a great team.
I'm bloody in love with her, I realised.
Three weeks after we first met, we were chatting on the couch when I turned to her.
"Balinda," I started. "D'ya wanna get married?"
The words had just popped out of my mouth before I could stop them. I didn't even have a ring to give her!
I've never let my condition hold 
me back Image: NorthWestStar
She looked back at me blankly.
"Are you serious?" she said.
"Of course," I replied.
"Absolutely," she squealed, kissing me. I was stoked.
Although we'd only known each other for three weeks, it felt like a lifetime.
Our friends and family were delighted for us when we told them.
Balinda and I decided 
to have a small wedding 
with just 20 of our nearest and dearest.
I wanted to stand for the ceremony, and had been practising doing 
so without my sticks to aid me.
When I spotted Balinda at the end 
of the aisle, she was breathtaking. She looked 
so beautiful.
I stood as we exchanged vows in an old flower mill that had been turned into 
a museum and then had 
the most fantastic day with our guests.
A few months after getting hitched, we moved to Cloncurry, a remote town 
18 hours drive inland from Brisbane, where Balinda 
ran the only pharmacy and 
I helped coach the local 
footy team.
We enjoyed the adventure of living in outback Australia and getting to know the locals.
While we were there, we experienced widespread drought, flooding, and witnessed the blood, sweat and tears our farmers put into their land.
Balinda, me and Mum Image: Supplied
But after three years, we felt too far away from our family, so moved to Coffs Harbour, NSW, to be closer to them.
Now, we're both back at university.
I'm studying to become a barrister, while Balinda is training to be a diabetes educator.
We also hope to start a family in 
the future.
Sadly, my condition fluctuates and I spend more time in a wheelchair or mobility scooter.
But I've never let my condition get in the way 
of my goals, especially when it comes to sports, so I'm training for the Australian Indoor National Rowing Championships and just finished my second push-up challenge – I'll continue to do them for as long as I possibly can.
I'm sharing my story to show people we can always help others and improve our own lives at the same time.
To support Variety, visit: www.variety.org.au