Who is Dane?

Dane is an elite athlete from the Bega area in NSW, Australia.

He has classic autism and against all odds he has learned to talk, recognise emotions and make lifelong friendships.

He has competed in the 2003 Special Olympics in Dublin, bringing home a bronze medal for Australia, and has spent the past 14 years training for his run across Australia.

He finds running marathons helps him and when he’s not running, he loves to dance!

Dane has also competed in major cycling races and a range of other sports including powerlifting and ten-pin bowling for which he’s won gold medals.


What is his project?

Dane had a dream he created with his father to run from Perth to Pambula, 50km per day, six days a week.

He decided to create the Perth2Pambula project to raise money for both autism and depression. His chosen charities were Beyond Blue, Autism Spectrum Australia and Autism CRC.

The best way to do that, he thought, was to run a marathon a day. A herculean feat for anyone. But Dane was determined to make it, particularly since his dad passed away. He wanted to run in his memory. His mother Junee was constantly by his side.

Dane with his mum Junee
Dane with his mum Junee

Ms Waites has written a book about the family’s journey with autism, Smiling at Shadows, and in 2014 was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for her advocacy for people with autism. Plus in the lead-up to the run, he had a local area team that was tremendously supportive.

The Benevolent Society thought this idea was so great, we became one of the silver sponsors.

Dane returned home to a hero’s welcome and what Junee calls ‘the event of the year in the Bega Valley’.

Jo-Anne Hewitt, Junee Waites and Tina McManus
Jo-Anne Hewitt, Junee Waites and Tina McManus

The Benevolent Society’s Executive Director of Disability Jo-Anne Hewitt and Director of Disability Services, Southern NSW Tina McManus were there to greet him and accept his appreciation in a small ceremony.

It was a truly touching moment and everyone at The Benevolent Society who was involved loved the connection with a man who achieved so much and the community who loves him.


The Benevolent Society is the Major Partner of My Disability Matters. Regular articles are published on MDM News by The Benevolent Society, related to disability services and the NDIS in Australia.
Click here to see all articles published by The Benevolent Society.


Get Disability News In Your Inbox