MERCURY SERIES: MAKING A DIFFERENCE
Disabled children's charity KidzWish enjoys the support of many high-profile ambassadors.
Max Lukmann is not a sport star or television celebrity, but has become one of KidzWish's most passionate and well-known supporters.
Children with disabilities are close to his heart. Max, 52, suffered a brain injury at birth.
His involvement with KidzWish began seven years ago when director Chris Beaven and her husband John chatted to him at sporting events.
They admired his independence but discovered he had been beaten up on a train while returning home one night.
"John said 'never again'," Mrs Beaven said. "So we started picking him up and taking him to all the games. Then he started helping with what he calls 'the handiclapped children'.
"He would come in always wanting to move things and help with things. And then when the party starts he sits in the front row."
KidzWish marketing manager Karouna Michael said Max's commitment was enormous.
"He is always the first volunteer there and the last volunteer to leave," he said.
Mrs Beaven said Max had become one of KidzWish's greatest assets.
He looks for any opportunity to help, from folding flyers and putting chairs out for events to handing out toys to children and making them feel welcome at the annual Christmas party.
Max recently took it upon himself to call into Shellharbour and Oak Flats Community Bank and ask for money to help KidzWish expand its music and dance classes for children with disabilities. He was so convincing that the manager rang and asked Mrs Beaven what was needed.
While KidzWish runs a class each Wednesday for about 16 children, they would like to expand the program. Community Bank chairman Geoff Egan said the bank was so impressed it had offered a $50,000 contribution.
Max said he loved being a KidzWish ambassador.
"I love [helping the children]. And I work at BIG W two days a week. My boss Nathan ... is a good boss."
The annual boat cruise for children on Sydney Harbour each October is one of the highlights of the year for Max.
He goes with the driver on the bus to collect the children and is involved throughout the day.
"My favourite thing to do is to help the handiclapped children. The Christmas party [in November] is the busiest time. I help by giving them lollies and ice-cream.
"It is a very busy week because there are hundreds of children. I do it because I love to see their happy faces. I feel good inside my heart because I know out there some of those handiclapped children are very sick but they still all try to come to our Christmas party."
Max said he also liked working with celebrities such as Wendell Sailor.
"I am friends with Sailor," he said. "They are all my family."
Max also helps look after the kids when they are invited to Hawks games or shows such as Disney on Ice.
He is so highly regarded by the KidzWish team they made him a jacket emblazoned with the words "KidzWish Ambassador".
He is looking forward to helping the charity run its annual golf day at Shell Cove, the KidzWish Academy for wheelchair basketball and this year's Find a Fairy.
When the Find a Fairy search goes to Stockland Shellharbour each year Max can be found walking around taking donations, and normally ends up with the fullest bucket.
And when anyone has a problem he goes to church and prays for them.
Max has given $50 of his own money to buy a brick to sponsor a child to attend the annual KidzWish party.
That brick with his name on it will soon become a permanent marker of his support on a special wall.
"Do you like my story? It is a true story," he said.