Ellen show aim for disability defier

MIKE MATHER
Last updated 05:00 20/02/2014
Tegan Morris
PETER DRURY/ Fairfax NZ

AIMING FOR ELLEN: Tegan Morris wants to make an appearance on the Ellen Show so she can inspire other people.

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She may be severely disabled, but Tegan Morris has not let that stop her from setting goals and challenges that most able-bodied people wouldn't consider.

Morris, who has coped with a rare form of muscular dystrophy since childhood, has set her latest sights on appearing on The Ellen DeGeneres TV show, in the hope that her story could act as an inspiration or an impetus to other disabled people.

And, if past achievements are any indication, her sheer determination and tenacity will get her to Los Angeles, where the show is filmed.

Morris - who works at Manawanui, a support network used to create individualised funding systems for disabled people - has set up a Facebook campaign page to help get her to the United States, if she manages to attract the attention of the show's producers and DeGeneres herself, that is.

Morris' condition means she faces huge physical challenges. Her support people, who are effectively her employees, act as her arms and legs. She also relies on a machine that helps her breathe at night and uses an electric wheelchair to get around.

As she writes on her Facebook page, "all of my experiences have helped me to learn a lot of things about life and people, and my studies have enlightened me on ways to use my experiences to help others realise their potential".

Her campaign had got off to a good start, she said.

"The page has got 500 likes in just over a week. The whole thrust is not to make money to get myself a free trip or anything like that.

"Hopefully by reaching out [Ellen] will respond... She has done so much to treat the people who come on her show as individual entities and not just labels. Her whole show is about giving people a voice and being generous and trying to be fun and engage the audience.

"One of the latest things we are doing is working on a video presentation, featuring footage of myself and interviews with different people who know me.

"Hopefully it will get my story and what I have achieved seen by more people, who will hopefully be inspired by it."

There is plenty to be inspired by. The 26-year-old has been doing her best to defy her disability and lead as normal a life as possible.

Shifting out from her parents' home in Katikati in 2005, she subsequently studied for and earned a Bachelor of Social Science degree at Waikato University.

A newfound love of theatre led her to directing a play in the 2011 Hamilton Fringe Festival and she is now forging a successful career helping other disabled people seek out financial support .

People willing to help Tegan with her challenge can go to facebook.com/HelpTeganMorrisMeetEllen.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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