New Zealand Army Chaplain Major Darren O'Callaghan can't wait to represent the New Zealand Defence Force at the 2017 Invictus Games in Canada.
Major O'Callaghan, who calls Maketu and Rotorua home, will compete in golf, wheelchair rugby, wheelchair basketball, and indoor rowing.
The Invictus Games is the only international adaptive sporting event for wounded, injured, and ill active duty and veteran service members.
This year's event, in Toronto from September 23-30 , will be the largest yet, with 550 ill and injured servicemen and women from 17 allied nations - including 24 from the New Zealand Defence Force, - competing in 12 adaptive sporting events.
Major O'Callaghan joined the New Zealand Army in 2006 and three years ago was diagnosed with early-onset Parkinson's disease.
While it was a huge shock to be told of the diagnosis, he is optimistic that a cure will be found soon.
"I want others to who are diagnosed with the same disease to know that they don't need to lose hope. There are so many support systems out there to help get
through the tough times," he said.
Major O'Callaghan has completed four Rotorua marathons and aimed to run next year's Rotorua half marathon to raise money for Parkinson's New Zealand and is inviting friends and family to join him.
He is looking forward to the competition in Toronto.
"I like competing. I'm looking forward to being part of the team, building friendships and seeing others from different countries and how they cope with their disability," he said.
"The commitment of those participating at the Invictus Games is a testament to their individual courage, and to their conviction to face their challenges with a fighting spirit.
"It means a lot to have the opportunity to represent the NZDF in a sporting fixture like this. I am proud to be in the New Zealand Army and the NZDF to carry its mana and values."
The games use the power of sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation, and generate awareness of the physical and psychological injuries sustained by wounded warriors.
The NZDF team is sponsored by the Auckland RSA, Christchurch Memorial RSA, Fulton Hogan, BLK and Offlimits Trust.