PORT Macquarie swimmer Paige Leonhardt's dream of representing Australia at the next Paralympics is one step closer.
The 13-year-old was presented with a Variety Scholarship with several other high profile celebrities in attendance at a presentation night at The Concourse Theatre in Chatswood recently.
Hosted by Variety - the Children's Charity, this extraordinary annual event celebrated children like Paige pursuing their dreams, as almost $100,000 worth of Variety Scholarships were presented to 38 deserving children.
After a serious car accident in 2006, Paige now suffers from intercranial hypertension, meaning she has excess fluid on the brain which must be removed via a spinal tap and calcium build-up behind her eyes causing drusen which will one day lead to a loss of eyesight.
Despite Paige's physical challenges, the keen swimmer is taking big strokes in her swimming career as she aspires to dive in at the Rio Paralympics in two years' time, after only taking up squad swimming in March 2012
Swimming is not only Paige's therapy for her medical conditions, but it has also become her passion as she has rapidly risen through the ranks competing regularly with able-bodied swimmers for the Port Macquarie Swim Club at various championships.
Paige said swimming is the only place where she feels like everyone else and every day the swimmer proves her disability cannot get in the way.
Some of her recent achievements include eight state records and seven national records.
Her dream of representing her country has been given a leg up thanks to the charity which will help cover the costs of swimming and training competitions.
Variety's newest Ambassador and former Newcastle Knights hooker Danny Buderus presented a moving speech commending and encouraging the kids in attendance.
Guest of honour and three-time Paralympic Gold Medallist, Kurt Fearnley, who has won marathons by wheelchair racing, crawled the Kokoda track and sailed on a winning Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race Crew, also spoke from personal experience about how anyone can defy the odds to achieve their full potential.
Tam Johnston, CEO of Variety, said the Variety Scholarships award night was a huge success and an inspiring community initiative that opens up a world of possibilities for kids in need.
By funding tuition and related expenses, the scholarships cover both special needs and disadvantaged children up to 18 years of age, to overcome adversity and reach their full potential.
Awarded annually since 2006, over 82 scholarships have been granted in NSW alone across categories such as ballet, singing, drama, language, athletics and wheelchair basketball to the value of over $366, 000.