One of the biggest Australian Rules football clubs outside of the land down under has raised thousands of pounds for a charity during a four-week campaign amidst lockdown.
Wandsworth Demons Australian Rules Football Club, based at Clapham Common, raised more than £6,350 for FightMND, a charity working towards finding a cure for Motor Neurone Disease (MND).
The cause is close to the heart of the football club, after member Ray “Bubba” Wright’s uncle lost his life to MND in 2012, and another member, Jess Huxtable, heard his father had been diagnosed with the disease last year.
For their fifth year campaigning for FightMND, the club hosted virtual trivia nights, a bake sale and sold official FightMND merchandise.
The international fundraising campaign, Big Freeze, encouraged a month-long physical activity challenge around a virtual Clapham Common.
Members were encouraged to record their run, ride or walk.
The Australian Rules club’s final fundraising event took place on Saturday, July 12 with a 21km silent walk, an ice challenge and a raffle draw at Clapham Common.
An effort was made to also promote the benefits of physical activity during lockdown and improve positive mental health.
Jess said: “One of the things that I immediately noticed about this club when I joined is the amazing sense of togetherness and support, personally I feel that most strongly during the Big Freeze campaigns.
“My dad got diagnosed with MND last year and although things are getting harder every day, he is a trooper and is still very much dad.
“I find this hard to talk about with family right in the middle of it. But it does give me a huge amount of strength knowing the footie club and the AFL community back home is committed to FightMND, find a cure and offer support in so many forms to families like us.
“I know there are a lot of Ds (Demons) that have personally had experience in their own families, last year’s Big Freeze on the sea was the first time I met anyone who had a family member go through it and that was big for me to talk to them.
“It’s something that takes a lot of freedom and independence slowly, and it’s devastating watching dad go through it, but the awareness is huge and the technology now available to help is amazing.
“Emotionally for us, it has turned everything upside down for our family, trying not to focus on the negatives and focusing on the positives is absolutely key for us, having so much time to spend with dad during this pandemic is huge and a big thing.”
“It also helps that footie is back.”
Demons are one of the largest Australian Rules clubs outside of Australia, normally fielding three men’s and two women’s teams into the AFL London league, with more than 200 members pre-Covid.
Pictured top: Wandsworth Demons AFL (Picture: Danny Radis Photography)
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