Doctors said it was impossible, but now this man with cerebral palsy is living his dream of being a truck driver
“Nothing is impossible, the word itself says I’m Possible” – Audrey Hepburn
As a boy doctors were worried he wouldn’t even be able to walk and talk, let alone drive a motor vehicle. But Max Quaglio who has cerebral palsy has proven everyone wrong, and he feels pretty good about it too.
It’s a remarkable achievement for the 22-year-old from Queensland’s Sunshine Coast as he lives with this debilitating condition which severely impedes his body movements and speech.
“Ever since I was a little boy I loved cars and trucks and boats and anything that moved, I love it,” Max said.
“A lot of people thought it wouldn’t be possible for me to drive anything, but now I’m driving cars and trucks and anything.”
When he showed an interest in vehicles, Max was taught how to drive by his father on a rural property.
“He showed an interest in it since he was a baby. Anything that had a steering wheel,” his father Ben Fitznar said.
Getting his learner’s permit on his 16th birthday was “one of the best days of my life”, Max said.
Later Max would have to convince doctors, driving instructors and a trucking company that he had what it took to get his truck licence.
“A lot of people thought it wasn’t possible, but I had to convince everyone that it was.”
Max has also become somewhat of a social media sensation after an ABC video showing his pure joy as he drives was viewed more than a million times on Facebook.
“Being out on the road, there is nothing like it,” Max said.
“Especially when I’m driving a truck, it’s just the feeling of being the king of the road.”
The journey to celebrated truck driver has been made possible through his sheer determination, Max’s parents said.
“He would persevere at things until he got it right. It’s that perseverance that’s got him to where he is today,” his mother Grace Quaglio said.
“He’d achieve a small thing, then go to the next one … and the dreams got bigger and bigger.
“It’s practice, that’s how you get better. We’re not born knowing how to do everything.
“Even if your body’s not complying, not doing what you want it to do, you train it.
“Early on I was told he may not walk, he may not talk. But, in my head I was thinking, ‘Yes, he will. He’s going to walk, and talk and way down the line, he’s going to have a job’.
“Max has the will. That’s who he is as a person.”
To get his driving license, Max worked with a specialist occupational therapist and a specially trained driving instructor, Ms Quaglio said.
“There were lots of different steps to go through. They tested him off-road, to test his reflexes, eyesight, turning the head — all of the things you need for driving.
“He passed with flying colors.”
Mr Fitznar said Max had learned to push the limits of what was possible when living with a disability and he eventually found an employer who was willing to push alongside him.
“Clayton’s Towing were the first to see he had the potential and were also willing to give him a go.
“He’s always had to go an extra mile. For him to get this job with his disability is pretty wondrous.”
After trying him out on forklifts, Clayton’s let Max extend to excavators and loading dump trucks and later to driving tow trucks.
Max has advanced to driving trucks alone for a new employer, Fraser Earthworks.
“He thrives on independence. They give him more and more trust, and more responsibility,” Mr Fitznar said.
“The more of a taste he gets for independence, the more he wants.”
From playing with toy cars to driving a forklift to now holding a multi-combination truck licence, Max said his goal was to eventually become a manager in the industry.
“I don’t want to drive trucks for the rest of my life, but for now, I love it and it’s important to know what it’s like out there for the truck drivers.
“When we are in the office we know what happens out there and what they have to deal with.”