Dave MacCalman has always loved sport.
And now his work sharing his passion with young people is being recognised in a glitzy ceremony in Auckland tonight. MacCalman is a finalist in this year's Attitude Awards, being held at SkyCity.
The 60-year-old works as a senior advisor for the Halberg Foundation, helping shape the lives of less able young people through sport and activities in the Bay of Plenty and Gisborne areas.
"It's trying to get young people in particular into sport and recreation so they have a lifelong connection. A lot of our work is with schools and clubs to promote positive attitudes towards disabilities," MacCalman said.
The foundation nominated MacCalman for the Employee Award category. The organisation was founded on the belief that all people should have equal opportunity to enjoy sport, regardless of their abilities. And MacCalman's passion for sport runs deep.
"I've had a lot of experience, a big sporting background."
MacCalman has represented New Zealand at three Paralympic games, is a champion athlete and coach in both disability and mainstream sports, including wheelchair rugby and wheelchair basketball.
Seeing the smiles on the faces of young people learning a sport for the first time made the job something extra special, he said.
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"That's the reward. That's it exactly. If we can assist someone having a passionate experience in their lives, that is so important."
McCalman became a quadriplegic 40 years ago while in the United States on a basketball scholarship. Being able to still take part in sport and share that passion and experience with others was one of his great loves.
His others are his wife and moko, who he lives with on an avocado orchard in Athenree.
"I've been very lucky."
The Attitude Employee Award
This award recognises an employee who has proven themselves to be a great contributor to the company or organisation they work for. They will have served as an inspiration to other disabled people seeking employment and/or to employers who might be reluctant to employ a person with a disability. Career opportunities available to people with disabilities are often limited by the willingness of employers to support them and their aspirations. The exemplary work ethics of people with disabilities who are currently employed only serve to encourage other employers to recruit from the disability community.
Source - Attitude Awards