In 2010 Dean Martelozzo had just finished his undergraduate degree in economics and finance.
He was about to embark on what he thought was going to be the trip of a lifetime.
He had a one-way ticket to Europe and told everyone he would come back whenever he was ready.
Unfortunately, he was ready a lot sooner than he expected when he broke his back in a snowboarding accident in the French Alps.
That single event was life-changing and during the last decade Mr Martelozzo had devoted so much time and energy to helping SpinalCure Australia find a cure that he has just been named its inaugural ambassador.
In 2011 Mr Martelozzo focused on his own rehabilitation and putting his life back on track but by the end of the year he was ready to take the next steps and began working for the University of Wollongong.
"This was followed with entrance into a Master of Business Administration degree at the Sydney Business School in 2012. Upon the completion of my MBA in 2014, I began my career in the financial services industry.
"2014 also marked the beginning of my relationship with SpinalCure. One of my close friends, Xander Beccari, used his annual leave to ride his bike from Brisbane to Wollongong in order to raise funds for SpinalCure."
Since then Mr Martelozzo has continued to support the charity any way he can. But the biggest opportunity to accelerate his involvement came when he co-founded Headlands Distilling Company with mates Jared Smith, Lachlan Hingley and Thomas Simnadis in 2016.
Jared, Tom and Lachy unanimously agreed that we would donate 20 per cent of our profits to SpinalCureHeadlands Distilling co-founder Dean Martelozzo
Mr Martelozzo said it was great to have the encouragement and support of friends for the cause. Xander Beccari's ride blew him away and then his new business partners did the same.
"Jared, Tom and Lachy unanimously agreed that we would donate 20 per cent of our profits to SpinalCure," he said.
"We treat the community as a fifth business partner and devote a share to socially responsible causes.
"For obvious reasons, the goals that SpinalCure are working towards are close to my heart and I feel blessed to have friends that will ride a bike 1000km or donate an ongoing share of company profit to help find a cure for spinal cord injuries."
Mr Martelozzo said being the inaugural community ambassador will give him a platform to promote the values of the charity and facilitate greater awareness within the community about spinal cord injuries.
"I'll be participating in activities to help raise funds and working closely with the community to generate new networks," he said.
"I've always loved participating in initiatives that benefit the community and I'm really excited to be in a position to shape this role into something that can have genuine impact."
Mr Martelozzo's community minded spirit filters through everything I do.
And example of that was when COVID-19 first appeared in Australia and shortages of essential protective items such as hand sanitiser emerged.
"We (Headlands) recognised that we were in a position to contribute to overcoming the shortage," he said.
"While under normal circumstances it would have been painful to see the alcohol that was originally destined for the whisky barrel become hand sanitiser, we knew that this was the right thing to do.
"All our attention turned to producing alcohol as fast as we could and play our part in giving the community access to sanitiser.
"Even as national supply has returned to pre-pandemic levels, we have maintained relationships with a range of local businesses - offering a reliable, high quality and importantly, local source of sanitiser."
Mr Martelozzo said he couldn't change what happened to him nine years ago but it had provided him with an opportunity to help others.
"My world changed that day in the alps when I became a paraplegic," he said.
"There have obviously been tough days since I had the injury, but I'm incredibly fortunate to have the support network I have around me.
"I recognise that everybody goes through hard times, but I aspire to provide hope that there are always brighter days ahead.
"I'm excited to be in a position where I have a platform to further advance the quest for a cure."
Mr Martelozzo himself is not giving up on one day being able to walk and do others things he once did again.
And he won't stop trying to achieve the same goal for others.
"I hope it isn't too long until Xander is doing the ride from Brisbane to Wollongong again; only this time, he has me pedaling my own bike next to him," he said.
Headlands Distilling Co.
12/6-8 Ralph Black Drive, North Wollongong
Dean Martelozzo has a degree in commerce with a double major in economics and finance, and followed that up with an MBA in 2013.
Jared Smith has a double degree in engineering and chemistry with his honors in organic chemistry.
Lachlan Hingley has completed an advanced degree in medical and health science followed by his honors and PhD in physiology.
Thomas Simnadis has a double degree in commerce (majoring in economics) and science (majoring in nutrition). He has also conducted research into the scope for innovative grain products to be deployed into the Australian food supply as part of his honors and PhD.
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