26 August 2022

Community champion's story the focus of short film festival entry

| Claire Fenwicke
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Dane and his mum Junee at the Keep Australia Beautiful NSW 2021 Sustainability Awards. Photo: Perth2Pambula Facebook.

You’ll see a familiar face from the Bega region when you log on to watch the entrants in the ‘Focus on Ability Short Film Festival’.

Local running legend Dane Waites was chosen as the focus of a film entered in the Australian Documentary category, detailing the story behind the ‘Give Dane A Clean Run’ campaign.

Dane has long been an ambassador for the area and ran more than 4000 km from Perth to Pambula in 2017 to raise awareness about autism, a condition he lives with.

The film was created by Bega Tathra Safe Ride secretary Doug Reckord.

“Dane is a legend down here, everyone sees him running and toots the horn, and he waves back, he loves it,” Doug said.

“I wanted to focus on his ability to be a community champion and ambassador for important causes.”

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Dane has thrown his support behind the Bega to Tathra bike path campaign, and announced on his Facebook page that any award he won would be “put towards the construction of the shared pathway”.

The men first linked up for the Give Dane A Clean Run project, which was a community clean-up of the Woolworths area of Sapphire Coast Drive at Tura Beach.

But Doug said he also wanted to capture the special relationship between Dane and his mum, Junee.

“They’re very special people and we’re really lucky to have them willing to support other people in the community,” he said.

Dane and Junee with the Woolworths clean-up crew at Tura Beach. Photo: Doug Reckord.

Doug also approached local community members for testimonials to include in the film, including Eden-Monaro MP Kristy McBain and Bega Mayor Russell Fitzpatrick.

He said everyone immediately wanted to sign up to sing Dane’s praises.

“People know who they’re dealing with, it’s someone who’s 100 per cent genuine,” Doug said.

“There’s no pretence with Dane, what you see is what you get.”

This was Doug’s first foray into filmmaking, and he had a lot to learn along the way.

But he said he was “delighted” when Dane and Junee gave the finished product their blessing.

“I was sweating on that as I did not want to mess it up, but I got nothing but trust and support from both of them which was very encouraging,” Doug said.

“But it’s a bit like cooking, when you’ve got great ingredients you can’t stuff it up … I hope I’ve done these two fantastic community members justice.”

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The film was live until 30 August, with everyone encouraged to cast their vote in the competition.

Some people had already shared messages with Doug and Dane about how much they loved the film and the man it featured.

“Good on you Dane, you have a big heart and passion to help others and inspire people. I love your smile,” one wrote.

“So proud of you Dane, you truly deserve all of your awards and recognition,” wrote another.

While Doug hoped Dane’s film would win its category, he was mostly proud to be able to capture and share the story of his friend.

“I’d love for people to keep commenting on the video and giving Dane that feedback and support, he loves that sort of thing,” he said.

“The reality is all of us have things we are capable of, and that includes people categorised as being disabled in some way and Dane is a champion … anything else that comes out of the film is just a bonus.”

Dane Waites is a running legend in the Bega Valley area and an autism advocate. Photo: Perth2Pambula Facebook.

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