His mother Kristen said he has had to grow up fast, and now 11-year-old Colt Croser will be representing Australian innovators at NASA's John F. Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The Cobargo Public School Year 5 pupil burst into tears of joy when news was announced on Friday he had been named national winner of Origin's littleBIGidea competition in his age group.
The award was for his Angel Rein design aimed to prevent horse riding injuries by having reins snapping apart when pulled too tight.
I don't like seeing people down, so I always check to see if there's anything I can do to help.
His innovative idea came after a tragic accident saw him require micro-surgery and skin grafts to help reattach fingers damaged after being caught in reins.
Colt said he hopes it will prevent others from going through the same experience.
Last year's NSW Young Australian of the Year, Macinley Butson, was his mentor, and was on hand to surprise Colt with the news, and said his idea "stood out" from more than 1000 others.
"Colt's idea shows thoughtfulness, tenacity and creativity, and I'm looking forward to seeing where he takes this idea in the future," the 19-year-old said.
His parents Kristen Cowdroy and Linden Croser said their son has always had a strong sense of compassion which Ms Butson said is an important part of the innovation sector and problem solving.
"I don't like seeing people down, so I always check to see if there's anything I can do to help," Colt said.
"Hopefully the idea can go a long way."
He now joins two other age group winners on an all-expenses paid trip to NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Epcot Theme Park at Disneyworld and Ripley's Believe It or Not.
His idea was judged on its creativity, practicality and originality by a panel of expert judges including biomedical engineer and inventor, Dr Jordan Nguyen, Anna Cain from Engineers Without Borders Australia and Ms Butson.
Ms Cowdroy, a local sheep and cattle farmer, said the accident, which saw him out of school for almost three months earlier this year, had changed his life.
"It was a hard way to learn at such a young age, and it certainly has changed his life," she said.
"He has come out of it the other side, and we're really proud of him. Colt has had to grow up quickly, and what an amazing experience this is."
Colt's teacher Campbell Kerr has been extremely supportive of the school's pupils entering the competition, and this year the school had three ideas in the top 40 entries of the competition. The two seem to share many qualities.
"He's an unbelievable teacher," Colt said.
"He never tells you to give up, he always lifts you up if you're down."
After seven years teaching in London, Mr Kerr has a track record of helping children successfully pitch their ideas in competition.
"It doesn't matter what size your school or your community is, but the size of your dreams," he said.
"Colt has to find the line between safety and efficiency in his design, but he's doing a great job."
Fifteen of Colt's family members, Bega MP Andrew Constance and Minister for Skills and Tertiary Education Geoff Lee visited the school for the announcement in front of excited pupils.
"Colt's done everyone so proud," Mr Constance said.
Colt said his love for horses and other animals on the family farm have been an inspiration since moving to Cobargo seven years ago.
"Horses are nice creatures, and they can help you if you're injured, and carry you," he said.
Origin CEO Frank Calabria also congratulated Colt on the quality of his idea.
"Since launching in 2014, littleBIGidea has inspired young Australians to harness their creativity and practical thinking to tackle real world problems, and I'm always impressed by the ideas we receive," he said.
The story Colt beats adversity on his way to NASA after topping the nation in innovation first appeared on Bega District News.