Gunnedah and District AFC will collaborate with Gunnedah’s Sunnyfield Disability carers group in support of the fight to find a cure against Motor Neurone Disease, participating in the nationwide Fight MND fundraising campaign.

At Wolseley Oval on Saturday and Sunday (June 22-23), the AFL North West senior and junior competition round seven matches scheduled for the Gunnedah AFL club will coincide to promote the importance in raising funds for the Fight MND cause.

Through the club’s senior men’s Bulldogs, women’s Poochettes and mixed under 12s and 14s Pups, the local AFL club and its players are enthused at showing their awareness and support behind the nationwide fundraising efforts of Fight MND.

As a club collective they will wear specially-designed Fight MND socks for their respective matches, purchased by the AFL club as a donation towards the cause that’s connected by the continual effort in finding a cure for MND.

Reflected upon in Australia and close to the hearts of the MND fundraising initiative is the AFL community, led by the courageous and tireless efforts of 12-year MND sufferer and Fight MND fundraising pioneer Neale Daniher.

Ten years ago, Daniher had a vision to make an impactful response to stem the rising number of casualties and fellow sufferers.

Passionate to the cause, freshly-inducted AFL NSW Hall of Famer Daniher put his face and generous heart to the Big Freeze Fight MND campaign, selflessly in the aim of bettering lives for those suffering, significantly contributing towards finding a cure for those like he that are slowly suffering from the insidious disease.

Being suddenly frozen by the Big Freeze insinuates having the participant’s breath taken away, a metaphor that exemplifies the discomfort all MND patients suffer from in Australia and worldwide.

On what is now renowned as one of the biggest days on the AFL calendar outside of grand final day, the Big Freeze slide campaign is held every June long weekend at the MCG before the King’s Birthday match between Collingwood and Melbourne.

With Daniher and his family at the forefront, various retired AFL league footballers combine with other former and current professional athletes, cajoled into joining forces by taking the plunge down a slide and into an ice bath, helping raise funds and awareness to find a cure and eventually freeze what Daniher describes as “The Beast” that is MND.

Locally, chief organisers for Gunnedah’s Fight MND fundraising efforts and Sunnyfield disability group senior service manager for New England, Lauren Muggleton, along with Sunnyfield Gunnedah team leader Tim Ritcher, have seen first-hand the devastation the disease causes.

Important to note is not only is it tragic for the person diagnosed and suffering, but also the families and closest friends of those sufferers, who watch their loved ones slowly and cruelly have their bodies shut down upon contraction of the disease.

“After having the honour of supporting an amazing family who have gone through this (Motor Neurone Disease) cruel battle we want to do more,” Ritcher said.

“We want these families to know they’re not alone and we want to do our part to fund a treatment or cure.

“We and Gunnedah have lost two well-known community members only this year.

“We are so passionate about finding a cure, as are people all around Australia and the world.

“The support we receive through organisations and individuals buying Fight MND beanies, Big Freeze socks and participating in our local ice bucket challenge is something we are so thankful for.”

“Every little bit counts and we will continue to fight for those that have passed and with those suffering now in the hope that one day, we can find them and others a cure,” Muggleton added.

Specially designed Big Freeze MND socks will be worn by Gunnedah AFL players on the day, honouring the efforts of local disability helpers Sunnyside, as well as acknowledging the tireless efforts of those such as Daniher who are working endlessly to find a cure for Motor Neurone Disease.

In the matches for the round, the senior Poochettes women and Bulldogs men will take on the Inverell Saints seniors on the Saturday, while the junior Pups will take on Armidale in their respective under 12s and under 14s matches on Sunday.

Sunnyfield disability group will be at the senior matches on the Saturday, offering those in a playing and supporting capacity to show their patronage in buying a Big Freeze beanie or pair of socks for $15 each.

All funds raised go directly to the 2024 Fight MND fundraising cause, where currently a staggering $97 million has been raised since the inception of the Big Freeze and Fight MND fundraising campaigns started more than 10 years ago.

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