Former Parramatta Eels star’s remarkable new career in disability support

Posted on 21/11/2021

Steve Dresler, Founder and CEO of What Ability is pursuing his life mission: “To be a voice for the innocence of the world through inspiring them to do more, be more, see more and dream more.” He is a young gun, at 23 years old and is a medically retired NRL player (Parramatta Eels) turned CEO. During his time as a footy player, he worked on weekends supporting kids with a disability and helping in a local community.

Upon retirement in 2019, due to an unsalvageable knee injury, he took on helping these kids full time, and so began What Ability. His organisation supports people of all ages living with a disability such as autism, down syndrome, ADHD and childhood dementia. Some of these children can’t talk, read, write or even feed themselves, but they can run, jump, play and laugh!

His company lives by the motto of ‘Happiness Comes First’ and with that, is aiming to support Australians across the country living with a disability. From his head office starting in his apartment in Bondi, to now a team of over 120 support workers and 10 full-time office staff (not in his apartment), he has moved mountains over the past two years and is an unstoppable force to be reckoned with.

One of the best parts of his job is the ability to give these children a chance to have fun. What Ability runs about 20 camps over the year and some of the programs include taking the children for rides on jet skis or fishing. Dresler said: “We take them to do all the things that we got to do as kids, and we want to instil that in them.”

“We play our vital roles, whether it’s therapy by support, psychology, basketball… we tend to forget about having fun and just letting them be kids – having fun and running around and doing what they want to do,” he shared with participants during a recent webinar held by Apprenticeship Careers Australia on the More Jobs More Care program.

He is also an extremely selfless person, always putting the needs of others before his. These families have their deepest trust in him and depend on Dresler and the support he has built around them on a daily basis. He is paving the way in the disability support sector by believing there is no limitation when it comes to having fun and what these individuals can do.

His advice to someone thinking about getting into the industry is you’ve got nothing to lose and it has been a blessing for him. “There are tough days and sometimes there are tough jobs you have to do. But first and foremost, you are doing things for these families and to make these kids smile and give them opportunities.”

“At the end of the day, the job is about (having) fun, happiness, and giving back. There are some tough things but just give it a go. There’s nothing to lose and you might find a career.”