Crowd packs into Brolga Theatre for disability awards
ABILITY, not disability, was the focus of the Disability Achievement Awards held at the Brolga Theatre on Thursday.
About 200 people attended the awards, to recognise the accomplishments of the Fraser Coast's best and brightest disability achievers.
Headspace Hervey Bay employee Ryan Bayley took out the senior section of the achievement awards.
Diagnosed with type two spinal muscular atrophy, Ryan knows just how hard life with a disability can be and says fitting in and trying to live a normal life were major hurdles.
Ryan said it was important to always try to look on the positive side of life and to never give up.
"I've hit rock bottom before and it's possible to come back… no matter how hard life gets you can always bounce back," he said.
Jonathan Pendleton was another winner, taking out the sports and recreation award.
He has dedicated more than 20 years of service to Maryborough soccer, responsible for changing score signs during matches.
Jonathan said he was feeling "rapt" about his win and proud of being nominated by all the clubs.
"I wasn't expecting to win, there's a lot of sport people who'd have loved to have won," he said.
"I couldn't believe it - it's good to win!"
Fraser Coast Mayor Gerard O'Connell opened the occasion, with a speech focusing on the importance of inclusiveness.
"People like yourselves are the heroes of our community... you have shown us that out of disability there is an ability to care and give," he said.
Cr O'Connell said the awards were one of the premier events of the Fraser Coast.
"It encompasses everything about our community... everybody, irrespective of disability, should be acknowledged," he said.
- Sport and Recreation Award: Jonathan Pendleton
- Private Enterprise Award: Hervey Bay Whalewatch Quick Cat II
- Employment Award: Lanson Civil Pty Ltd
- Community Organisation Award: Maryborough Special School Bucketeers
- Achievement Awards - Junior Section: Billy Kerr
- Achievement Awards - Senior Section: Ryan Bayley
- Individual Award joint winners: Stephen Maurer & Claire Sinclair