Survival of the Fittest – Meet Harry Wrublewski

July 15, 2010 by Odile Faludi - Maccabi NSW
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The saying, “Survival of the Fittest” takes on a completely new meaning when you speak to Harry Wrublewski.

Charlie, Sara, Sam and Harry Wrublewski

You realise that Harry has not only drawn on his physical endurance but more importantly his mental stamina to overcome life’s enormous adversities. I recently sat next to Harry Wrublewski at a dinner party and casually asked him what he had been doing over the past few years? As I delved more into the years gone by I found myself absolutely shocked. The story just kept coming in a mass of disturbing twists and turns. Harry is certainly a survivor and a remarkable man.

In 1998, Harry and his wife Sara, and their first born son, Sam were living in Birmingham, England. Harry was heavily involved in Basketball and was busy running the Birmingham Bullets Basketball Club. Life was exciting and frenetic, but relatively normal until one dreadful night. It was after travelling back from a match in Belgium and Sam, then just three years old had requested McDonalds for dinner. Harry explains, “A woman inside the store was smoking in close proximity to myself, Sam and Sara. So, I casually made a comment, “Why don’t you finish your cigarette outside and then come back inside.” She turned to me, told me where to go in a rude, abrasive swearing manner and left the restaurant and I did not think anymore of it. A few moments later several men came back into McDonalds and stormed toward me in order to pick a fight with me, obviously annoyed that I had spoken to their girlfriend. My response to this ugly stranger was if you had been here, I would have said it to you! I in no way wanted to commence a fight I was purely clarifying the nature of the comment.”

What subsequently happened is absolutely unbelievable. The attack got ferocious with an enormous punch being thrown square on Harry’s face from this unknown man. Harry hit the ground only to think he better get up straight away. He got up on his feet to find this same man grabbing his face and attempting to literally bite off his nose. The full penetration of his teeth sunk deep into his nose, breaking the flesh and causing an avalanche of blood. That was just the beginning. Within minutes Harry had not only this attacker repeatedly punching and kicking him but three other mates. Every time he would land on the ground his immediate survival reaction was to get off the ground and try to defend himself. This attack went on for ten long excruciating terrifying minutes. Staff and customers simply froze at first and did nothing, but eventually rang the police. The sound of the approaching sirens sent the thugs running. Both the police and the ambulance paramedics could not believe that Harry would have survived such a brutal bashing for ten minutes but the hard evidence was on the restaurant surveillance cameras. Thank heavens Harry survived this ordeal, and was pleased to report that the main culprit of the attack got nine months’ jail for grievous bodily harm.

A few short weeks later, he was to hear that his mother’s condition (she had cancer) had deteriorated and he would have to fly home to Australia. He didn’t want his mother to know of what had happened and his bruising and injuries were not quite healed, but he came home and spent two weeks with his mother. Three days after he left Sydney to fly back to England to rejoin his wife and son and continue trying to sell his business, his beloved mother passed away, so Harry hopped on another long flight home.

Eventually selling the Bullets and resettling back in Sydney, Harry thought he was in fine shape, until one day four years ago when he was doing his normal walk in Bronte and he noticed something different. He got to the top of the stairs and he experienced an abnormal amount of huffing and puffing. Harry consequently went to the doctor, underwent various tests to be told he needed an “immediate quadruple bi-pass.” He had five major blockages in his arteries and was a time bomb waiting to go off. After emergency surgery, Harry made a full recovery and is relieved that he did not have a massive heart attack and die on the spot.

One would think that would be now enough hurdles to overcome but yet he was tested again. Last year, his brother Michael Wrublewski, OAM passed away from pancreatic cancer. A huge blow to the Wrublewski clan. Therefore, the obvious question I was aching to ask, “How do you overcome all these huge challenges and come through the other side?” Harry’s response, “Things happen and you have to accept that they do and move on. I have learnt to compartmentalise and only keep onboard in my head what I need. With every hurdle I have gotten stronger and with my wife, Sara by my side I can do anything.” Harry is certainly inspirational and his determination not to let the negative things that have occurred in his life eat him alive is testament to how strong and courageous the human spirit really is.

Please diarise: Michael Wrublewski’s consecration is on August 15th 2010 at 10.30am at Rookwood Cemetery. Everyone is invited.

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