As a child, he told people he was run over by a trailer rather than admitted to having a
disability.
But last week, in front of friends, family and co-workers, Max Cole stood proud.
The 31-year-old caregiver from Whangarei was awarded the Unsung Hero award for service to the Disabled Community.

The award was created by the Cerebral Palsy Society to mark World CP Day on October 5.

Mr Cole, a caregiver for CCS, was the first recipient of the national award.

"It's just such an eye opener seeing these people in our community that dedicate their everyday lives to helping others," Cerebral Palsy Society partnership manager Martin Pepperell said.
"To see someone like Max who has a disability and gives his all to helping others is so inspiring. It just shows that it's all about our ability, not our disability."
Mr Cole, who has mild cerebral palsy affecting the movement to one side of his body, is a caregiver for people with more significant disabilities to himself.

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He works up to 50 hours a week, in a variety of shifts.

"Some of these
people have no one else," Mr Cole said.
"I enjoy talking to them, hearing their stories and keeping them company."

Cerebral Palsy is a
complex, lifelong disability. It primarily affects movement, but people with CP may also have visual, learning, hearing, speech, epilepsy and intellectual impairments.

The Cerebral Palsy Society aims to enhance the lives of people with cerebral palsy in New Zealand by empowering them to make their own choices.
Cerebral Palsy is a term used to describe a group of disabling conditions, which affect movement and posture. It is caused by a defect or lesion to one or more specific areas of the brain, usually occurring during foetal development before, during or shortly following birth or during infancy.

Cerebral refers to the brain and palsy to muscle weakness and poor control. Cerebral palsy itself is not progressive which means it does not get worse. Although cerebral palsy is not curable in the accepted sense, training and therapy can help improve function.