When Cam Calkoen was born, doctors predicted for him a life of limitations. Thirty years later, and those limiting factors that the doctors said would cause him the biggest hardship are the roots of his success.
If your first thought was, easier said than done - then you'd be right. In his teenage years Cam grew self-conscious of his cerebral palsy and started doubting his ability. However he found the support he needed in his best mate, world champion triathlete, Terenzo Bozzone. "It was quite daunting being one of the very few at New Zealand's biggest secondary school with a disability. I still vividly remember the day when a sports register was making the rounds for students to sign up for the athletics day. Terenzo encouraged me to give it a go and I'm glad I did because from there everything else just seemed to fall into place. I was no longer the guy who walked and talked funny, I was the guy who embraced every opportunity and put 110 percent into everything he did."
Attitude certainly determines latitude, because Cam went on to become a gold medal athlete. He represented New Zealand at a World Championship level in both the 100 and 200 metre sprints and had the opportunity to compete all over the world - Australia, Sweden, throughout Asia, Canada and the US. But in 2007 Cam made the decision to retire from athletics and instead focus on making a positive difference to the community.
Cam's passion for life has been a source of motivation to audiences around the world, from the Cabinet offices in Japan to the classrooms of schools in London
It wasn't too long after this when Cam and Bellingham Wallace Accountants' paths first crossed. One of Cam's proudest achievements was presenting a funding application to the ASB Community Trusts Board and securing $1million for the YES Disability Resource Centre a not for profit organisation. He achieved what had seemed impossible, by sharing factual, but inspiring stories that touched hearts. Determined to inspire others, Cam went on to establish Carabiner, a mentoring program for people with disabilities. Based within the YES Disability Resource Centre, the programme links young people aged between 17-24 years who show vision, passion and perseverance towards a specific goal, with someone who has experience to help them achieve it.
Cam's achievements have opened up doors to new opportunities to continue his work. One of these was becoming an ambassador for Toyota New Zealand, the car company which encourages everyday people to 'believe'. "I am a firm believer in the power of our minds and that it is our belief as New Zealanders that sees us standing on highest pinnacles, sailing the seas and flying the skies to make a world of difference", explains Cam.
Cam has had the opportunity to team back up with good friend Terenzo in support of 0800 What's Up, a free national telephone counselling service for New Zealanders aged 5 to 18 years. He is also an ambassador for the North Harbour Club, a not for profit organisation dedicated to supporting the North Shore's rising young stars by providing grants ( AIMES Awards) for the pursuit of excellence in the Arts; Innovation & Science; Music; Education; Sport and Service to the Community. Cam's community work saw him become New Zealand's youngest recipient of a Rotary Paul Harris Fellowship, as well as being the inaugural recipient of the AIMES Award for Services to the Community.
Cam's passion for life has been a source of motivation to audiences around the world, from the Cabinet offices in Japan and the classrooms of schools in London to the corporate offices of Vodafone. For the last two years Cam has been traveling to New York to raise his speaker profile. When it comes to a competitive environment NYC is the ultimate for any speaker, because as they say if you can make it there you can make it anywhere.
"Mike Atkinson and the team at Bellingham Wallace Accountants have always supported my vision to be a speaker and have provided me contacts for speaking opportunities that have enhanced my business in New Zealand and assisted with introductions that have made it possible to bite into the Big Apple," confides Cam. "The fact that Bellingham Wallace look for opportunities to enhance the greater community is awesome!"
In speaking to NBC Universal and Viacom International, Cam has started to build an incredible network and already has several more trips in the pipeline. Bellingham Wallace is a proud sponsor of the AIMES Emerging Talent Awards.