Australia is crazy for the game of Cricket. In fact right now we are in the midst of “The Ashes“, a series of 5 games or Tests as they are called, against England. The Ashes have been played since 1882 and just recently Australia won their 32nd Ashes by winning the first 3 of 5 Tests, England has won 31 and they have drawn 5 times. Growing up in Canada it was a game that I wasn’t really familiar with, but having lived in Australia now for just over 19 years it is a game I have certainly learned to enjoy. Mind you I still can’t understand how you can play a game for 5 days and have no winner!!! But that is the way of the game sometimes. So what does this have to do with MS?
One of Australia’s retired and most loved Cricketers Dean Jones has become a professional golfer and his major charity that he supports is MS Australia. This year he wanted to do an “MS Ashes Trek”, from Melbourne to Sydney (MS) holding Cricket and Golf Clinics as well as fundraising lunches and dinners to raise money and awareness for MS Australia. It was going to be a gruelling schedule for a number of weeks and it was going to happen as The Ashes were starting in Brisbane. It was great timing, especially to get some publicity and the staff from MS had a huge project on their hands. Massive kudos must go to Greg Hutchings who put the entire trek together and I am sure he lost many nights of sleep. But what an amazing couple of weeks!
With Dean’s Cricket friends, people were able to meet and share laughs with past Australian captains like Allan Border and Ricky Ponting, one of the greatest bowlers in Cricket Glenn McGrath, past England captain Sir Ian Botham and retired players Rodney Hogg, Damien Fleming, Bob Simpson and many more. It was fabulous to meet people like Molly Meldrum and our past Prime Minister John Howard, who also came to the dinners to show their support for people living with MS.
Thanks has to also go to the many sponsors and partners who helped make this trek happen, Jayco, Bob Jane T Marts, QBE, the Pratt Foundation, Spartan, Mitchelton Wineries, Bradman Foundation and Monjon.
I was asked to take part in a number of the dinners along with other people living with MS, to tell our stories, to educate people about MS. I was lucky enough to be involved in dinners at the MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground), Rupertswood Mansion (home of The Ashes), Mitchelton Winery and the SCG (Sydney Cricket Ground). At all these dinners there were Silent Auctions, Live Auctions and raffles conducted. Some of the sporting memorabilia was incredible and I wasnt surprised when there was incredible bidding between parties for some of it.
It was great to have some of my friends attend the Sydney dinner and one, Kirsty even bid on one of the auction items, a signed Yellow Jersey by Simon Gerrans from this years Tour de France. Kirsty was excited because she was actually there when he won that leg of the tour!
It was certainly a full on few weeks especially for the road team of Greg, Duncan and the volunteers, but also for Dean and Allan who had very late nights but early mornings to travel on the trek from Melbourne to Sydney. All in all the trek has raised almost $250,000 for MS Australia and most importantly it has educated people of all ages. I was very proud to have been involved in an amazing journey.
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