New Sharks recruit Michael Ennis presented a young fan with a special school award at the Como Public School's Presentation Evening last Thursday.
As a popular member of the nearby Oyster Bay community Ennis was asked to present an award called "The Como Star of Courage" to Dylan Sharp, a year 4 student. Not wanting recognition or fanfare, Ennis gave up his time independent of Sharks community commitments and presented the award at the invitation of a friend who had links to the Como school.
Born with Mebious Syndrome, Dylan has overcome incredible odds to be where he is today and Michael’s emotional speech and presentation of the Courage Award, (transcript below) left few dry eyes in the room.
As a result of his condition, Dylan suffers from a lack of self-confidence and a certain amount of anxiety.
However when driving home from the Presentation Evening when asked by his dad David how he felt about the award, Principal Nicole Arnold relayed Dylan's response to be; "I've never been so proud of myself in my whole life."
That was the response she had hoped for.
“That was exactly what I wanted him to feel,” Ms Arnold said. ‘’He is a delightful student, intelligent, incredibly brave and an absolute joy. We want him to recognise the amazing strengths he has and feel good about himself. I am very grateful that Michael's words helped us achieve this.”
If his early involvement is anything to go by, Ennis is certain to be a committed contributor to Sharks community programs and initiatives during his time at the club.
Following is a transcript of Michael Ennis’s Presentation Speech to Dylan.
“Principle Arnold, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls thank you very much for inviting me here this evening to present the inaugural Como Public School Star of Courage Award.
As a person living and working in this beautiful area I am honoured to be involved in presenting such an important award.
As a father of four young children under the age of 9 this award takes on even greater significance because the recipient is an absolute inspiration and an incredible role model for all the children here this evening.
It is important that I don’t announce the name of the winner until the very end however because I know that he or she is a fanatic Sharkie’s fan I will tell this very true and very moving story referring to him or her as Sharkie.
Little Sharkie had a pretty tough start to life. Born requiring oxygen immediately and unable to feed, Sharkie was really sick and was diagnosed with a very rare illness called Mebious Syndrome.
This illness meant that Little Sharkie could never talk, could never smile, and could never pull any funny faces. To the parents in the audience please take a moment to think about the joy provided by your child’s first smile, by that very first word, and by that first sentence.
To try and help, Little Sharkie had an operation in hospital at 6 days old and then another operation at 6 weeks old and another 11 operations over the next 5 years, which if you do your math’s was 13 in total.
It was thought that the best option to help Little Sharkie to communicate was to learn sign language and have special communication technology however at the age of 14 months Little Sharkie started speech pathology, which means classes to help Sharkie learn how to talk no matter how difficult.
At this stage the doctors didn’t know that their patient was really special. They didn’t know that Little Sharkie had the amazing powers of courage, endurance and strength. So using these special powers Sharkie went to speech pathology classes every 2 weeks for over 8 years. That is nearly 200 classes.
Sharkie was also told that there would be no playing of contact sports and that bat and ball sports would be extremely difficult. This made Sharkie sad because the thought of playing rugby league was always ‘front of mind’. So Sharkie thought if I couldn’t play rugby league I will use my powers of courage, endurance and strength to learn how to play cricket. At 6 years of age Sharkie played an actual game of cricket for the first time.
Today Sharkie is an amazing talker who has an incredible story to tell about always trying your hardest, practicing every day, never giving up, and having the courage to show all children that no matter what challenges you face you must never quit. Sharkie is still playing cricket and is now one of the star bowlers in the U10a’s with the reputation for being the straightest, most consistent and economical bowler.
So it is with much excitement and my absolute privilege to announce that the inaugural winner of the Como Public School Star of Courage award is: Dylan Sharp"