Kahi Puru says losing his leg in a forklift accident almost 30 years ago "set a new precedent" for his determination.
Having come to Australia after serving with the New Zealand army, Mr Puru ended up finding employed in Newcastle with BHP in the early 90s. It was here, in 1993, that Mr Puru said he suffered a life-altering workplace injury.
"I was a 29-year-old father of two," he said.
"I was in a spot where I couldn't see the forklift driver and he couldn't see me so as soon as I stepped off the truck he cleaned me up."
Mr Puru said his left leg was amputated at the hip with another 10 operations required over the next three years as a result of the injury.
"They told me I would never be able to have kids again but now I have two more beautiful daughters and that has showed me that I can do anything I set my mind to."
Hey, these things happen, all you can do is look forward and get back to living your lifeKaha Puru
Mr Puru is a self-described "man of many hats". After a brief stint back with BHP, he went on to represented Australia in power-lifting at the 2000 Sydney Paralympics.
"My personal record back then was 222.5kg for the bench press. I didn't end up lifting that much in Sydney but I still placed seventh in the world."
For over 20 years Mr Puru has been a safety ambassador for Icare NSW, giving workplace safety and motivational talks at various locations across Australia. After a short time driving "party buses" around the Hunter, Mr Puru secured a job in July this year through Joblife driving service buses for a local company.
"People who get on the bus see the crutches and ask who they belong to. It's not until I stand up that they are shocked when they notice I've only got one leg," he said.
"I get faced with physical and mental challenges and a lot and people underestimate me but that's what spurs me on."
Joblife is a disability employment service provider. CEO Nunzia Confessore said when it comes to employment, Joblife "walks the talk".
"41% of our staff are living with a disability. This encourages both our clients and employers who look at our business," she said.
The United Nations International Day for Persons with Disabilities is December 3. Ms Confessor said it is important to remember that disabilities aren't always physical.
"They can also be intellectual and nurodriverse which includes psychosocial issues," she said.
"The day is a celebration of people living with disability and their achievements as well as raising awareness and dispelling myths that people with disability aren't as employable."
This year Mr Puru said he wants people to take a moment to appreciate the achievements of those people with disabilities and think about what life would be like if they or someone they loved was suddenly injured.
"I went to work that day with two arms and two legs," he said.
A big part of him living with a disability, Mr Puru said, is being able to accept the change and move forward.
"After the accident I was in a pretty dark place for a while but then I realised that this is who I am now," he said.
"A lot of the time life doesn't just get difficult it's us who let life get difficult. Hey, these things happen, all you can do is look forward and get back to living your life."
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