A Papamoa woman has been named a Local Hero for her battle and persistence in creating more awareness of a debilitating bone condition.
Sarah Clark, 30, was awarded the 2013 New Zealander of the Year Local Hero Award for her work in increasing the profile of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs).
"I couldn't believe it, I was really humbled. I didn't know my passion meant so much to other people," she said.
"It makes me realise that the support group is important to people and that it is worthwhile. It makes the last eight years work really mean something to me."
Miss Clark was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at 22 and set up a Super Young Arthritics of New Zealand Facebook page to bring young MSD sufferers together.
She created an online forum where young people could share their experiences and advice, helping lift the lid on the number of young people suffering from a condition, usually thought to affect older people.
Miss Clark said the award would help her reach a completely new demographic.
"People came up to me on the night and said they didn't even realise that young people get MSDs. There were local body government [people] there and hopefully more realise that people with MSDs do need support."
Semi-finalists for the 2013 New Zealander of the Year will be announced on December 10 and a gala awards presentation will take place in February.