Passion, determination and resilience.
These were some of the moving and inspirational messages shared by NSW's four Australians of the Year to the students at Maitland High on Wednesday.
Among the panel of outstanding Aussies was Hunter born three-time Paralympic gold medallist Kurt Fearnley who was named this year's NSW Australian of the Year.
Mr Fearnley gave an emotional speech to the students about finding their passions and celebrating their differences as strengths.
"You are a part of my community. You guys own who we are. You own it by actions and deeds - no matter how small," he said.
"And those actions and deeds are more powerful when they involve the people around you. My hope by coming here today ... is maybe [lighting] that spark that allows someone in this room to end up on this stage.
"There's a strength the moment you realise the difference in you is strength.
"If there is something in this world that you want to play a part in .. builtd it because when you feed that thing ... everyone around you wants to be a part of it.
"Do everything you can to light that spark. I hope you find the thing out there that you love, want to change and are willing to hurt to get there. And when you get to that point, you'll find people who will help you out."
The state-recognised over achievers visited the school as part of the 2019 Tour of Honour on Wednesday.
Also on the panel was Senior Australian of the Year Heather Lee OAM. The ninety-two year old started walking regularly late in life - signing up for a series of fun runs in her late 70s.
Since then she has claimed five world records and eight Australian records.
"Age is no barrier ... and how you live your life is the most important. Improve your life with exercise," Ms Lee said.
"My husband's last words to me were: now is the time to show your metal."
And Ms Lee has no plans of slowing down now, and told the cohort that she "wants to know how far I can go".
After losing their prematurely-born triplets in 2007, Sophie Smith and her husband Ash formed a running team 'Running for Premature Babies' to fundraise for life-saving neonatal equipment.
Since then, the team has become a charitable foundation, raising over $3 million to give premature babies a better chance of survival and directly benefiting over 5000 premature babies and their families so far.
"It's my great honour to tell you my story," Ms Smith said.
Ms Smith spoke about losing her sons - Henry, Jasper and Evan - and how she was motivated to make their lives "matter".
She also paid tribute to the tireless work of neo-natal medical practitioners.
Young Australian of the Year, Jarrod Wheatley who has founded two not-profit organisations, spoke to the students about the importance of interpersonal relationships.
"What you need is relationships and connections," he told the crowd.
"All people need relationships ... everyone plays a role in that. Be a friend. Everyone can do something. It starts on a small scale."
Mr Wheatley's organisations include Professional Individualised Care, which works to improve the wellbeing of children in care, and Street Art Murals Australia which helps solve the graffiti problem by connecting street artists with paying clients and to create commissioned murals.