Sport can be a powerful motivator for people who are battling illness.
The Kicking for Cancer game on March 14 will present an opportunity for former AFL players and former cancer sufferers to come together and play Aussie Rules at Rumbalara Football Club in Shepparton. But more importantly, the match will highlight the persistent struggles of families who are battling cancer.
One of the children who will be attending the game, 10-year-old Western Bulldogs fanatic Charlotte Morrow-Dick, is living with grade four brain cancer.
“I’m so excited for the game,” Charlotte said.
Her mother, Nicole Morrow, said Charlotte had been having “head problems” since 2016, and was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2017.
“She had a surgery three days before her ninth birthday,” Morrow said.
“We encourage her to keep going — there’s no such words as ‘I can’t’. We work to find ways to do stuff that is her version of ‘normal’.”
Funds raised from the K4C game will go towards granting wishes for families like Charlotte’s; K4C founder Ricky Nixon said last year’s game allowed a family to make a $6000 wish and fly from Brisbane to Melbourne.
Nixon said it was “money well spent”.
“To see this kid who had a couple of months to live, who’s now in remission, we don’t care if it would have cost us $60 000,” he said.
Another young person in remission is Kicking for Cancer ambassador and Shepparton resident Alistair Hand, 26, who suffered from acute myeloid leukemia.
Hand said he threw his full support behind the event.
“The amount of support I had from my friends, family and at The Leukemia Foundation, I realised how much these events support families and help get you through tough times,” he said.
“If there weren’t events like this, it would be so much tougher for all of the families that are going through what I went through.”
After Hand’s treatment finished and he qualified as in remission, he eased his way back into working life at Goulburn Valley Signmakers.
“After going through leukemia, fatigue is a huge part of the recovery process, so I’ve been at GV Signmakers for nearly two years and full-time for the last five months,” he said.
Hand said there was every chance he would pull on football boots and “snag a goal or two”.
“I think I’ll jump on for a few minutes and see what I can do,” he said.
Former Richmond player Jake King, who will be captaining the city team, said his AFL career presented opportunities to see children going through tough times, which was a “big eye-opener”.
“One of my biggest weaknesses is kids, and to see kids going through tough times and get traumatised through events like cancer, you never wish it upon anyone,” King said.
“To be a part of it and to help put a smile on their face means more than anything.”
But King said the event was not only to help children.
“The parents go through so much, so to get the mums and the dads out of the house and to see them out of the hospital, come to the game and have a laugh and smile — it relieves pressure on them for one day,” he said.
“I don’t think people understand how much it means to them.
“When you’re a part of it, playing games like this, you wish you can do it more often.”
Kicking for Cancer game event information:
Where: Rumbalara Football Club (Mercury Dve, Shepparton)
When: March 14, 7 pm
Tickets: From $11.64
Tickets available at kickingforcancer.com.au
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