Stipendiat 2015

Pontus Ydström: a Swedish boy won a disability prize

The 21-years-old Pontus Ydström from Kalmar, Sweden is one of the bravest people who I’ve ever spoken with. He has several operations behind, but he still thinks the people around him are the real heroes. He is a wheelchair user and now he is gladder than ever. He is back to his job again and works hard of fulfilling his big dreams.

You have been rewarded with Funkibator’s Joel Gustafsson-prize. Are you surprised?
It was a totally surprise for me! I have heard about the award of course, but I haven´t thought that I could get it. One member of Funkibator, Tore Torstensson called me on a Friday afternoon. I can say I was really shocked in a positive sense. It is a very big honor for me!

Pontus Ydström, glad och nöjd stipendiat av Joel Gustavsson-stipendiet 2015

It’s not a secret, you were friends with Joel. What do you think about this prize?
Yes, it’s true. We knew each other well. We worked together on a board by an organization first and we both were interested in motorsport. He was that type of friend who mentioned me a lot. I really miss him. Otherwise I think it is a very good idea and so wonderful that Funkibator has created this. It is important to recognize people who were fighting and working hard in their life.

What do you think, why did Funkibator vote for you?
It was not an easy journey what I had in my life, but everything made me stronger. I just tried to survive, to do my hardest. People see me as a fighter, maybe I am, but I do just what I could and tried to do no matter how hard life was. I have to say I have several important people around me who help me a lot. They are the real heroes. I´m not perfect, sometimes I was deep down and without them I’d have given it up. They know me more than I know myself.

Who are these persons in your life who you can always count on?
Fortunately lots of people are around me, both famous and not famous ones. I don’t want to say here all of the names, but a professional racer and a nurse in Kalmar hospital helped me a lot, they were absolutely life savers when I got a new kidney.

I heard that you have a quite interesting hobby. Could you speak about that a bit?
Yes, it is motorsport. I don’t remember on my first race but when I met the professional racer who I mentioned, Thed Björk, my interest get bigger. He became my idol. He is a very kind person who never ignores his fans. My personal goal is becoming a racing driver. I started to collect information first about the driving license as a wheelchair user. There are few special companies who can give driving licenses to disabled people.

You get once a royal company at a race...
Thed and Prince Carl Philip is driving for the same team. He was very polite and calm, a good person to taking to. And you have another plan also… Yes. I want to connect young people with various kinds of disabilities with Swedish motorsport. Many young people with this interest don't get the chance to visit for example a racetrack, a race or meet a real racing driver. I will do my best and try to help them to get at least one memory that they can carry with them during their whole life. I will try to do my best to arrange some kind of activity involved with racing. First of all I will collect money and do a bit of research to see how big the group is. I have contacts within the world of Swedish Motorsport and I will try to see how they can help, if they can.

Can you speak a bit about your ordinary days?
Every day is different for me because of my work schedule. Wheelchair is not a problem for me I don’t think about it. For example I take the bus like ordinary people every day.

What is your job? Since when are you working?
I´m working at a small airport, called Kalmar Airport as a trainee. I do front-desk job, sell tickets to travelers and have admin tasks also. I heard it is not easy to find a job with disabilities, but I was lucky. The employer contacted me. They wanted to help. I’ve just come back to the work after a surgery. I was 3-4 months long out from work, but they were really friendly and waited for me. I am so thankful, I really like my job.

How do you see your life in the next 5 years?
I would be very glad, if I could get a primary job at my company later, cause it is just a practice now. I would like to do the driving license and start to work to be a racing driver, if my body will still cooperating me. My biggest enemy is my body. We can’t predict for 100% how it will work. Everything can happen. I hope I will be okay.

Which was your happiest day in your life?
I had lots of really happy days, I can’t pick up just one, but each race were a big fun for me.

What can you say to the others who has similar physical problems?
They have to find positive things in their life and hold on. There is a light in every tunnel. I’ve learnt from the bad periods that having friends is the most important in life. Without good people you can’t get very far. An important helper said me during my bad physical period: “No problemos”. I always remember myself to these kind words, if I feel bad. It means for me that I can, I will fix the problem.

The interview is made by Vivien Szabo, a volunteer from Funkibator