When the tsunami hit Asia on Boxing Day, 2004, it claimed hundreds of thousands of lives - but changed, and probably saved, the life of Donny Paterson. The former army engineer, with a history of chronic injuries, depression and addiction, was floating somewhere above rock bottom - aimless, traumatized, anchored only by his family - in particular, wife Tracey and the promising rugby league career of his son, future Newcastle Knights player, Corey. But something in the shocking devastation of the tsunami moved him. Within days, Donny was on a plane to Sri Lanka. Landing in Colombo he met three fellow travellers and together they took a chance and drove south. Arriving in the shattered village of Peraliya, they found a community without, food, water, medicine, homes or livelihood. The events that followed were remarkable â¦ a rescue effort, a village saved, an award-winning documentary, red-carpet treatment at film festivals, and, for Donny, a Cannes penthouse stay as guest of actor Sean Penn. How could this have happened to an ordinary Aussie bloke? Rough diamond Donny is proof of what can occur when the extraordinary deep within is tapped.
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