Community set to help freeze MND

Team effort: Jeff Hitchins and Laura Town from TM&H Mitre 10 Moe, with Moe footballer Ben Daniher and Moe Football-Netball Club president Manny Gelagotis hope to see a big crowd at Ted Summerton Reserve on Saturday for the town's own Freeze MND round. Photograph supplied



WHEN all is said and done, more is said than done.

Those are the words Neale Daniher lives by, and the face of the nation’s Fight MND campaign is once again urging all to show their support in the battle against motor neurone disease.

This year’s campaign strikes a chord closer to home, as Neale Daniher’s son Ben plays for Moe Football-Netball Club.

The Moe community will come together this Saturday, joining forces with a number of local groups for their own ‘Big Freeze’ event.

The Gippsland League Round 9 clash between Moe and Maffra will feature something much more significant than four premiership points, as blue beanies will be out in force at Ted Summerton Reserve when a host of luminaries make their way to the venue.

Among those slated to attend include the face of the Fight MND campaign, Neale Daniher (health pending), as well as former larger-than-life North Melbourne premiership player Sam Kekovich and Socceroo Archie Thompson.

In the true spirit of ‘putting a freeze on MND’, a number of local football identities have bravely put up their hand to be dunked under ice-cold water.

Much like the annual slide event at the MCG, those taking the plunge will be submerged one-by-one. Unlike the AFL however, country football requires some improvisation, so instead of a slide, a dunking machine has been booked.

Among the ‘dunkees’ taking part are Moe Football-Netball Club games record holder Peter ‘Jibba’ Ainsworth, and Maffra FNC champion Adrian Burgiel.

With the North Gippsland Football-Netball League having a league-wide bye, as well as neighbouring clubs Newborough and Trafalgar having the bye in their respective leagues, a Grand Final-like crowd and atmosphere is tipped to make its way to Moe.

The event has come about through Moe FNC’s connection to the Daniher family, and more

specifically, current Lion’s midfielder Ben Daniher being the son of the recent Victorian Sport Award recipient.

Speaking in the lead-up to the event, Ben said the support from the Gippsland community had been significant.

“It is incredible, our family has just been overawed by the support from the Australian community, especially regional communities like here in Moe,” he said.

“We look at the beanie sales every year and Gippsland is always at the top of the list. It just helps to one day find a cure for MND, every beanie and every donation helps, and the support from local communities has been incredible.

“From the bottom of our heart we couldn’t be more grateful for the support we are getting.

“This is my second year in Moe playing for the Moe Lions, it has been incredible, the community support from Moe and the greater Gippsland League has been incredible, I’ve loved my time.

“Dad always comes down to Ted Summerton Reserve, his heath is falling a little bit, he’s hanging on, and finding a way to smile.

“He loves heading down to Ted Summerton to watch the Lions play, we have a really strong connection with Moe and the Gippsland region.

“There is no surprise to anyone that MND is a really tough disease to deal with, and personally being close to him we’ve seen his decline, it’s really tough to watch, I’m sure people that have close people to MND can feel the same way.

“It’s tough to see him lose his voice, start to lose his touch, but he keeps fighting on, he’s a stubborn bugger, he always attacks the day full-on, keeps himself busy with the Big Freeze and having a smile on his face.

“While it’s starting to take away his voice, with the support we can start to take on the load for him.”

The Moe FNC has been working with an array of community groups, including Moe Racing Club, to make the local freeze a true all-Gippsland event.

“Our aim is to showcase Gippsland with a sea of blue beanies (you can purchase them on the day) and show when you wear your beanie you’re stepping up and fighting with Neale and those affected by MND,” Moe FNC president Manny Gelagotis said.

Moe footballers and netballers will all be wearing special Fight MND socks on the day, while a number of prizes and fundraising activities will also be taking place.

The ‘Ice Dunk’ event will commence at 1.30pm in the cricket net area near the club rooms.

Coles Moe store manager, Jarrod Ryan said the response from customers had been outstanding, with many shoppers adding blue beanies to their usual grocery shop.

“The local team members and community around Moe absolutely love this campaign, it’s one of our largest fundraising campaigns we do every year, they love supporting this campaign and we love getting it out to the community,” he said.

“Since 2018 Coles has been sponsoring the MND campaign, proudly raising over $20 million for Fight MND.”

The Moe Big Freeze event runs on the same weekend as the annual Big Freeze at the ‘G, on the now King’s Birthday long weekend.

Ben said his dad would again be front and centre at the top of the slide.

“It’s always his favourite time of year, he always finds the energy to get up for these sort of events, you’ll see him at the top of the slide cackling as he’s pushing the celebrities down,” he said.

“Dad is a bit of a control freak as you can imagine, he’s got that old coach in him, but he loves it, he organises celebrities, rushes around, he’s doing the walk from Fed Square to the ‘G, he’ll be there in full flight and having a great time.

“He finds real purpose in this, he wants to stick around for as long as possible just to see how much money we can raise and hopefully one day find a treatment and cure for this really insidious disease.

“It is going to be incredible, in its ninth year, over $6.5 million raised so far, we can’t wait to get stuck into it on King’s Birthday and see everyone in the blue beanies.”

This year’s ‘sliders’ are surfing legend Mick Fanning, Hawthorn great Jason Dunstall, actor Eric Bana, women’s football star Tayla Harris and sports presenter Abbey Gelmi.