DETERMINATION PLUS: Luke Wagner hasn't let cerebral palsy stop him from following his passion
DETERMINATION PLUS: Luke Wagner hasn't let cerebral palsy stop him from following his passion

Standing out from the pack and on his own two feet

Making their cars stand out is what young men do to be different from the herd, but standing out is something Luke Wagner has done all his life.

Mr Wagner has cerebral palsy, a condition which can affect sufferers limbs and limit their ability to walk, run, ride or drive.

Simple tasks for everyone else, but each presented a mountain for him to climb, plus he didn't make it easy on himself.

"My stepfather pushed me hard to learn to walk then I learned to ride a motorbike so I decided if I was going to drive a car then it would be a manual.

When the woman who did my licence test saw me getting into it she nearly had a heart-attack!" he said.

But those hurdles were molehills compared to trying to find a job.

"I always wanted to be a mechanic so after I finished school I visited workshops all over town and got a lot of knock-backs.

"It's hard enough to get a job when you're young, let alone if you're a bit different," he said.

Fortunately he found work in sales and took to it with an energy and determination that impressed his new employer.

"I learned a lot in that job and eventually it gave me the confidence to push out on my own," Mr Wagner said.

At 23 he decided to start his own business customising cars.

With hardly any money, a workshop that was too small and a handful of tools Mr Wagner started his car customising business.


CUSTOM BUILT:  DB Customs and Whitewalling
CUSTOM BUILT: DB Customs and Whitewalling Greg Bray

"I sat in my empty, sparkling clean workshop for three days before the first customer walked in," he said.

It was a humble start but he had passion, energy and a lot of help from his friends.

"My friends have been amazing, they've encouraged and helped me every step of the way," Mr Wagner said.

As the business grew he employed Blake MacLeod who is just as passionate about the business as he was.

"Blake loves customising cars and bikes, he's great at his work and always looking at ways to do things better or a bit differently," Mr Wagner said.

Together they've moved to a larger workshop and hired another mechanic but sticking to his internal script Mr Wagner is determined to do something else a little bit different in future.

"What I really want to do is give someone like me a job, to give them a chance to prove themselves," he said.

And proving himself is something he continues to do.

"I bought a ski boat and must have put a thousand dollars worth of fuel through it trying to learn to wakeboard," he said.

Again with patient friends encouraging he persisted until the day he lifted himself out of the water.

"It was only for a couple of seconds, but it was enough to give the confidence to keep pushing on," he said.

Once he was on his feet there was no looking back but now he's looking at tackling another mountain.

"The next challenge? I think I'll keep that secret for a little bit longer," he said.

Whatever it is this young man is definitely going to continue standing out from the pack.