Rocco Musumeci is proof that it's how you play the cards you're dealt with that really counts.
The Mt Keira resident, who has mild autism, joined over 270 fellow participants from the Illawarra yesterday to compete in the annual Sky's the Limit Mini- Olympics for people with disabilities.
The event is an opportunity for people with a range of physical and intellectual disabilities who often do not get a chance to fully participate, to experience the thrill and joy of competing in official sporting activities.
Mr Musumeci, 20, who went to Italy last year as part of the Australian disability futsal indoor-soccer team, said he most enjoyed playing sport with all the friends he makes at these events.
"It is a lot of fun. I'm going to do my best," Mr Musumeci said before competing in five events - including the 100m, 200m, 400m, long jump and shot put.
Amanda Calwell-Smith, CEO of disability support provider Essential Personnel, said the beauty of the event was the excitement on the faces of all participants, where everyone could excel and true sportsmanship was on display.
"It is such an inspiring day," she said, "It's a time for them, where it's not about their disabilities, but their abilities - and they are actually very able."
Ms Calwell-Smith congratulated local high schools who were involved in the day, together providing almost one "buddy" from their senior student cohorts for every disabled person participating.
Mr Musumeci's buddy, Year 12 TIGS student Blake Kovac, said the day had opened his eyes to how "unique and talented" people with disabilities were.
"Seeing Rocco and the others having such a genuinely good time, it just makes you smile," Blake said. "People say 'they have a disability so they're not as lucky', but look at Rocco - he's representing Australia playing sport and loving it. He's more able than I am."
Mr Musumeci's mother, Sue, said her son had faced communication and social difficulties throughout his life, but since participating and competing in sport he had "come a long way".
"Sporting events like [this] mean a day for Rocco and everyone here without all the barriers they're used to. They can be themselves - it boosts their confidence and self-esteem."