United to battle cancer
With the Grampians region suffering one of the highest rates of cancer in the state, you would be hard pressed to find someone not affected by the disease in some shape or form.
We all know someone – or are someone – battling the disease in one of its many forms.
The ‘lucky’ ones are in remission. Too many have had their lives cut short.
It is this knowledge and experience – as a patient, carer, family member, friend, colleague or so on – that fuels our passion for events such as Relay for Life.
The hope that we might one day find a cure, to prevent future generations having to endure our battles and losses, is why we continue to fundraise for organisations such as the Cancer Council and, closer to home, the new Wimmera Cancer Centre.
Since the late Don Johns first established a state-of-the-art oncology centre as Wimmera Health Care Group Foundation’s number-one priority for Horsham in 2014, the Wimmera-southern Mallee community has dug deep to help make it a reality.
Political lobbying and government contributions are vital for a project on this scale, but they rarely happen without community buy-in.
The community took ownership of this project in its early stages, raising more than $1-million for the Rachael’s Wish fundraising appeal, named in honour of cancer survivor and former Murtoa teacher Rachael Littore.
Wimmera-southern Mallee clubs, organisations, businesses and individuals joined forces to reach the total, however although the $5.3-million centre is now under construction, the fundraisers are still occurring today.
The driving force behind many of these small events is an opportunity to honour a loved one lost to cancer.
Laharum Football Netball Club will do just that at Cameron Oval on Saturday night.
Keg for Mildew
A ‘Keg for Mildew’ event will pay tribute to late life member Robert ‘Mildew’ Matthews, who lost his battle with cancer in December last year.
Matthews played junior football at Sunnyside and started his senior career with Wonwondah, then Imperials-wonwondah.
He had a stint with then Wimmera league outfit Rupanyup before arriving at his beloved Laharum in 1977. His playing career with the Demons spanned 14 years and included 318 games, 424 goals and a best and fairest alongside many other awards.
Matthews was a Laharum board member for several years, a director of football and spent many hours at Cameron Oval as director of ground management.
Matthews’ family has extended an open invitation for people to gather in the clubrooms after the senior match against Noradjuha-quantong.
A keg will be tapped, and a ‘whisky hour’ offered, with all donations going towards the Wimmera Cancer Centre.
Matthews’ son Gerard said the fundraiser would have been up his father’s alley.
“Dad would love the idea of catching up with mates from both sides and having a chat about the footy over a beer – as long as it was after the game,” he said.
“He’d also have loved whisky hour, as this was his go-to when he got sick of beer.”
Gerard said anyone who knew his father well knew how much he loved football.
“His greatest disappointment was never playing in a winning football grand final, although he took great pleasure from our success in recent years,” he said.
“If you watch the DVD of our premiership in 2013, which he did profusely, he was pretty much the first one on the ground once the siren sounded.”
Gerard continues to wear his father’s number 16 and sister Leah is a member of the C Grade netball team.
“Dad loved Laharum, particularly the family nature of the club,” Gerard said.
“He would have been proud as punch to see his grandson Tex play his first game of ‘minis’ in the red and the blue this year, although he would have said he was too young at only four.”
The Keg for Mildew event will follow the senior match, with whisky hour from 6.30pm to 7.30pm.
The Laharum club has a history of supporting the Rachael’s Wish campaign through a high tea, which it has hosted in conjunction with Rupanyup Football Netball Club for the past three years.
The ‘ladies day’, in memory of another late Laharum life member, Michele Mibus, has raised more than $10,500 for the cancer centre.
Mrs Mibus lost her battle with ovarian cancer in February 2016.
TRIBUTE: Laharum Football Netball Club will host a ‘Keg for Mildew’ event in honour of late life member Robert Matthews, pictured with children Gerard Matthews and Leah Askew.