Neale Daniher – The fight to beat the Beast

Neale Daniher – The fight to beat the Beast

Congratulations to Neale Daniher and the team at the Cure for MND Foundation for their successful campaign in raising over $2.4 million last week.

An extraordinary result for an extraordinary individual on and of the football field, and I’m proud to have spent such valuable time together professionally over the years.

If you would like to donate to this very worthy cause please visit www.mndaust.asn.au.

The following is Neale’s open letter to all the supporters of the ‘Big Freeze at the G’ campaign.

Neale Daniher’s MND battle: You’ve given me hope we’ll beat The Beast

To the Freeze Army,

In the stands at the MCG last Monday, there was the Demons’ red and navy and the Magpies’ black and white. But what shone out most was a sea of royal blue beanies.

Early this year, an idea formed to draft the AFL’s passionate footy community into helping lure from the shadows the incurable and beastly motor neurone disease.

I know MND well because I have it. And I know footy well because I’ve lived it. I couldn’t let the chance go by.

and the small team of volunteers at the Cure for MND Foundation wanted to flush out the monster and raise awareness of a disease described by researchers as the “most incapacitating of the human species”.

Raising some money along the way to help fund research into a cure would be important. Equally, though we wanted to raise awareness. Before you can fight your enemy, you have to know it. To eyeball it. A lifetime playing and coaching football has taught me that.

The $200,000 we expected might be donated at best would only go so far. But every bit would help. The MND research community is that strapped for funds here.

How we underestimated the passion from the footy family! In the first week we neared $500,000. We dared to hope that maybe we would hit the $1 million mark.

By the end of the Big Freeze at the G we were nudging $2.4 million. As the thousands of blue beanies of the Freeze Army footy fans left the stadium, I stood there stunned at the response. So did everybody else in the Cure for MND team.

We should not have been so surprised. To everybody who donated — from the $1 coin given to the tin rattlers outside the MCG, to the $50 given by a Werribee family, right up to the tens of thousands donated by corporations — thank you.

And to the AFL, the Sunday Herald Sun and Herald Sun, and the TV and radio broadcasters who set aside traditional rivalries to promote the Big Freeze challenge — thank you.

To the individual celebrities who slid themselves into ice water at the ’G in a Melbourne winter — Mark Robinson, Brian Taylor, Sam Newman, Tim Watson, Ross Stevenson, Mick Molloy, Strauchanie, Samantha Lane, Garry Lyon, Luke Darcy, Dermott Brereton — thank you.

Channel 7’s choice to work with other broadcasters took the campaign to a new level. It gave us the chance to spread the message further. And we had a laugh along the way.

Support from the Melbourne and Collingwood football clubs, the Melbourne Cricket Club, t20, Crownbet and AHG means 100 per cent of the donations will go to MND research.

So it’s not just me who thanks you. There are about 1900 people who live with MND in Australia. There are tens of thousands of families and friends who provide support for people with the disease. And there are two or three people diagnosed every day who will thank you.

I know this has given hope to clinicians, scientists and medical professionals working behind the scenes, desperately trying to find the answers to this insidious MND riddle.

Cure for MND Foundation — including its founder, MND sufferer and former haematologist Ian Davis, Pat Cunningham and his wife Angie (who has MND) and Angus Twopenny — will methodically and swiftly work through a process to direct every cent of the money raised into tackling this beast head-on. We want this money to go to research into therapy that will find a treatment or cure as soon as possible.

That success will happen. Some of the smartest medical minds around the world are edging closer to answers. And Australia is punching above its weight in that. It will take some years. We greatly value the support of our inaugural year of the Freeze and hope you will remain in our army. We will keep you updated with our progress, where funds will be directed, and the outcome of that funding. Keep in touch via curemnd.org.au.

My personal fight with MND might not be one I can win. But it’s not just about me. It’s more about everybody else this disease brings down daily.

To the Freeze Army, your support for this quest to beat the beast will mean my battle won’t be in vain. Because in time we’ll win the bigger war.

©2015 Herald Sun | This open letter was written by Neale Daniher and was first published by the Herald Sun on 14 June 2015.

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