WHEN it comes to sports heroes, there would be few more worthy than 14-year-old Thomas McSharer.
For 18 months, he has been guiding his visually impaired best friend through training workouts and inspiring him to never give up on his dream.
His best friend Domenic Romeo, who turned 18 last week, was a promising basketballer who had just returned home from a basketball trip to the United States when he was diagnosed with a rare disease that caused him to lose his central vision.
Determined to help Domenic remain upbeat and stay fit despite his eyesight deteriorating, Thomas would be there to train Dominic whether it was at 5.30am or after racing home from school.
“I've known him for so long and sport has always been his passion, so I want to do what I can to help him continue his passion,” he said.
Last Tuesday, about 120 children, parents and supporters attended the HBF Junior Sports Heroes awards to recognise community heroes in four categories - inspirational boys, inspirational girls, inspirational team and inspirational volunteer.
Thomas received the final award of the night, an inspirational volunteer award, and left barely a dry eye in the room.
After receiving the $1000 cash prize he turned to his mother and said: “You know I would give it all up for Dom to get his eyesight back, don't you.”
Community Newspaper Group editor-in-chief Greg Thomson said the awards aimed to recognise and reward young people who inspire others.
HBF managing director Rob Bransby said the inaugural junior sport heroes search had been an overwhelming success, with the individual and remarkable stories of hundreds of young people being shared through their Community newspaper.