AS ‘Fight MND’ hits the 10th year of the ‘Big Freeze’ between Melbourne and Collingwood, community fundraising is being magnified even more starkly than ever as we all fight to beat that horrid beast that is Motor Neurone Disease (MND).

Gippsland is at the heart of the push once again with Moe Football-Netball Club, alongside senior footballer, Ben Daniher, son of former AFL player and coach, Neale Daniher – now the frontman for Fight MND, commencing their own Big Freeze event on June 8, when Moe play Wonthaggi at Ted Summerton Reserve.

Ben has been at Moe for three years and humbly admits the initiative was off the back of the club itself.

“Just incredible the way they’ve gotten behind it. It’s a real testament to the club, it’s a really community-driven club. I didn’t even have to push it, it wasn’t on my agenda, I just wanted to play footy,” Daniher said.

“They’ve taken it upon themselves, our previous president Manny (and) our current president Matt, they’ve really taken it with both hands and wanted to do something to support me and my family and the cause which I’m incredibly grateful for.”

Last year’s game day fundraiser was a raging success, where spectators piled in to see friendly football faces and past professional athletes taking the icy plunge for the cause as Neale himself watched on just days before being front and centre at the MCG.

This next one looks to be even bigger with further backing from local businesses ranging from long held club sponsors to outside support from the likes of Alinta Energy coming on as major sponsors of the event.

“We’ve already started building off the success (of last year) just by the sheer number of local businesses getting involved and jumping on board to sponsor the event (and) the cost of running the event,” Moe FNC President, Matt Howlett said.

The football club is looking to see an even bigger crowd and attract the broader community not just specific to the local football public in raising support and awareness for this fight.

“Our promotions are building, we’re slowly building our profile on social media that will really ramp up next week with the intent that we’ll get a lot of not just footy followers but community people (as well) just to come down and be part of a great fundraising event, even if they buy a snag or they buy a beanie from us or even just come and participate by buying a raffle ticket, all the funds will go to the MND cause,” Howlett said.

The seven participants taking the plunge this year will be announced by the club on their social media pages as we etch closer to the day of.

“The support from, not just Moe, but the whole Gippsland community has just been incredible and on behalf of dad and our family we’re just incredibly grateful for the support,” Daniher said.

The former Essendon Best & Fairest winner and Melbourne coach was diagnosed in 2013, which rocked the football world with the knowledge that this wipes most people out within two or three years. Neale has stood strong for well beyond the expected.

Actions speak louder than words, and that is what the Daniher family and ‘Fight MND’ have pushed over this decade, ‘the mark of a person is not what you say, it’s what you do’.

“Ten years is a long time and we’re super happy that dad’s still with us, it’s been a long fight and there’s still a lot of fighting to go, we’re making some hits against the beast but there’s still a long way to go,” Moe footballer, Ben Daniher said.

Neale has been led most prominently alongside his daughter, Bec, as the organisation’s most active and loudest campaigners despite his further decline as of recently which requires him to use a voice machine to speak.

That hasn’t and won’t stop him from being there and fronting this debilitating disease with the millions of Australians behind him and the countless others still battling.

Tradition: Gippsland is at the heart of Fight MND once again with Moe Football-Netball Club. Ben Daniher (pictured), the son of Neale, was at Coles Traralgon last week to commemorate their 10-year partnership. Photograph: Daniel Brewer

In commemoration of the ‘Big Freeze’ milestone, support is being seen across the region with other community events especially from local Coles and Bunnings services as the main provider of the iconic blue beanies flaunted particularly during this month.

Another ‘Big Freeze’ sports event is also being held the same day as Moe’s with Bairnsdale hosting Sale and pushing to raise $20,000 for the cause with 20 volunteers taking the dive.

Over $97 million has been invested into MND care and research in the last ten years which due the amount of attention the Daniher family has brought to the disease that then leads into corporate and community support.

As for football, Ben has become a focal point of the Lions race for that lucrative flag, averaging over 30 possessions a game.

Neale and wife Jan can be seen down at Ted Summerton occasionally, watching Ben and his team at work as well as checking out the netball due to their love of country sport.