You heard the cheers and applause even before you saw Dane Waites as he ran along Pambula Beach Road to the Pambula Surf Life Saving Club.
Looking as though he was just finishing another of his local training sessions, Dane cruised through the welcome banners to the roars of the crowd.
And deservedly so; Dane had just completed 4000km over three months as part of Dane’s Dream, a journey from Perth to Pambula that raised awareness and funds for autism and mental health. It was 14 years in the making and Dane trained relentlessly for the epic journey.
As amazing as Dane’s dogged determination to complete his dream, was the resulting fundraising.
There were three cheques presented, each of $28,000, for beyondblue, Autism Spectrum Australia and Autism CRC.
As Dane took to the stage on Saturday the excited crowd fell silent as he thanked his mum Junee Waites for doing so much to help him through the journey.
“Thank you for my community getting behind me and my support group and everyone for being here and for supporting me along this journey and sharing my dream and God bless you for being here.” Dane said.
Junee said not only the community but also the country of Australia has got behind Dane and especially his support team.
“I guess one question Dane’s been asked was what was his favourite part of the journey,” Junee said.
“The Nullarbor Highway because I got to meet lots of nice people. It was a 90 mile long straight highway. I never stopped running I just kept going,” Dane said.
Junee said the truckies referred to him as Forrest (a reference to Forrest Gump) and he was part of their regular conversation as they asked who had seen Dane that day.
They played an important role too in letting Dane know about their support as they all tooted loudly, particularly when as Junee described it, Dane had the black dog biting at his heels.
“Dane’s Dream just goes to show you can, dreams do come true, so believe in yourselves,” Junee said.
Dane was presented with a medal by David Fancourt, a close friend of Dane’s father, before he passed away.
“Ron had a dream a long time ago, and Ron would have been proud of you, we are all proud of you,” David said as he placed the medallion around Dane’s neck.
Member for Bega Andrew Constance said Dane had “inspired all of us to be better people”. Mr Constance presented Dane with a plaque and message from the Premier of NSW, Gladys Berejiklian.
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