AFL great Neale Daniher has been named as the 2019 Victorian of the Year in recognition of his advocacy to find a cure for motor neurone disease (MND), which he was diagnosed with six years ago.
- Daniher was diagnosed with MND in 2013 and has helped fundraise for a cure since
- The charity he co-founded has raised millions of dollars for research
- The Victoria Day Council recognised his advocacy “despite his physical and voice issues”
Daniher, 58, played more than 100 games for Essendon in the 1980s, before going on to coach Melbourne in the AFL.
In 2013 he was diagnosed with MND, a fatal condition which gradually kills off the nerve cells which control movement, speech, breathing and swallowing.
The average life expectancy after diagnosis with the disease is about two-and-a-half years — but Daniher has defied those odds and co-founded the FightMND charity group, which has raised millions of dollars to find a cure.
In a statement, the Victoria Day Council recognised Daniher’s dedication to raising awareness about the disease in the media “despite his physical and voice issues”.
Daniher has previously referred to MND as “the Beast”, a term which he said helped him personalise his battle against the illness.
‘An honour and privilege’
FightMND was set up in 2014 and has since become the largest independent funder for MND research in Australia.
“It’s a great honour and privilege to be recognised today,” Daniher said.
“We see this recognition from the community who have supported our cause, FightMND, and without the support of the community, no one would have heard of us.
“So in a sense, I’m here on behalf of the community really, and the government and everyone that supports our fight.”
The Big Freeze — where celebrities raise funds for MND research by sliding into a pool of icy water at the MCG — has become an annual event for the AFL.
Last year, all AFL coaches joined the event to raise funds for the cause.
Daniher said it was “overwhelming” to see Big Freeze beanies when we was out and about.
“I’m very thankful for everyone that supports our cause, which is to find a treatment and cure of motor neurone disease. We haven’t found the cure yet, but with the help of the community and government, I’m sure we will.
“And that will help a lot of people, not only now but in the future.”
Regional doctor named Young Victorian of the Year
Skye Kinder, a doctor and rural health advocate from central Victoria has been named Young Victorian of the Year for 2019.
Dr Kinder was recognised by the council for her participation in national healthcare debates and her support for other junior doctors interested in working in rural and remote areas.
“Not only is Skye a role model and accomplished professional, but she is challenging the status quo and truly paving the way for a new kind of medical professional,” the council said in a statement.
“It’s pretty incredible when you think about how many young Victorians there are that are dedicated to making Victoria a better place … to be recognised amongst that field of candidates is pretty amazing,” Dr Kinder said.
Topics: australian-football-league, sport, motor-neurone-disease, diseases-and-disorders, health, victorian-football-league-vfl, community-and-society, melbourne-3000, vic, ungarie-2669, west-wyalong-2671