Edmonton teen Aiden Guerra has been recognized for his achievements as an army cadet.
Guerra earned the Major General Howard Award for achievement in academics, community service and cadet training – an honour bestowed on only one cadet in each province.
"I never really expected to get this, but here I am," said Guerra, at the presentation ceremony Wednesday. "I have it."
What makes Guerra’s achievement so remarkable is he had to overcome Asperger's syndrome - a type of autism.
The condition presented him with challenges not shared by his fellow cadets.
"Most of all, my social challenges," he said. "Being able to socially articulate better. In front of people."
When he was young, Guerra was shy and had trouble focusing at times in school.
But things improved when he took an interest in cadets at the age of 12.
Cadets gave him confidence and leadership skills, he said.
He now uses those skills to advocate for other young people with autism.
"Everyone can be a role model of their own," he said. "And help others to lead by examples. Inspire others."
He said he nows sees his Asperger's as a gift that made him the person he is today.
"It's enabled me to become more of a leader, to lead others by example. To motivate not only myself, but others."
"To get other people in the community involved as a whole, so that they have something to get involved with."
Next week Guerra will lead his corps in Remembrance Day ceremonies at West Edmonton Mall.