It was a surreal moment for Rutherglen Football Netball Club’s Greg Lumby when he took to the stage to accept the club’s award for outstanding initiative at the AFL North East Border’s community night held recently.
During last year’s awards night Mr Lumby was awarded volunteer of the year award and had shared the stage with the late Rutherglen Coach Karl Jacka who was named coach of the year.
“It was a great feeling to be back up there on that stage,” Mr Lumby said.
This year the Rutherglen Cats were awarded the outstanding initiative award for its cancer awareness and organ donation rounds.
Round six was dedicated to remembering those who have been touched by cancer, with various initiatives raising more than $90,000 for the Albury-Wodonga Regional Cancer Centre Trust Fund.
In round 17, the club raised awareness for DonateLife, encouraging people to register for organ donation.
Mr Lumby said they were both important initiatives.
“The cancer awareness day was something that Karl always spoke about and started to organise it with our sub-committee even before he was diagnosed with cancer,” he said.
“At the time, we had no idea it was going to turn out the way it did with Karl’s diagnosis.
“It was amazing the amount of support we got from around the club and the whole community.
“The amount of donations and well wishes we got from all the clubs, not only from the Tallangatta League, but also the Corowa guys and the Hume League was overwhelming.
“That day was unbelievable and we raised a lot of awareness and a lot of money.”
The cancer awareness round involved special jumpers that were made featuring 187 names, the names of those that were affected by cancer.
The senior players and umpires entered the ground on the day through a specially designed banner flanked by the family and friends of the people named on the unique jumper.
The idea was born by Jacka himself early last year, prior to himself being diagnosed with a rare stomach cancer, after organising a similar day at Balranald years ago.
The day was not just about remembering Jacka but about celebrating the survivors and remembering those who lost their battle.
Mr Lumby said the cancer awareness round would continue next year in some shape or form.
Meanwhile, the organ donation round involved the Rutherglen Cats raising people’s awareness of organ and tissue donation.
The Rutherglen Cats held a DonateLife day during round 17 to promote the importance of people joining the register and talking to loved ones about their decision.
The event was inspired by the club’s Jess McLennan who was involved in a car crash at Lilliput in June and died days later in hospital surrounded by friends and family.
Miss McLennan, who had worked as an emergency and critical care nurse at Wangaratta Hospital, donated her organs to help others live.
Her fiancé Jarryd Hatton wore Jess’ number on his jumper during the special match, which was also about organ donor recipients and the wider issue.
The Organ and Tissue Authority, DonateLife, North East Health Wangaratta, Charles Sturt University and Albury Wodonga Health sponsored the day and supplied specially designed football jumpers and netball dresses for players.
Meanwhile, at the recent AFL North East Border’s community night Corowa-Rutherglen Football Netball Club’s David Melksham won the youth coaching award.
Mr Melksham said the award took him by surprise.
“It was very much a team effort with the assistant coaches and team managers, so having everyone around and helping out makes it a lot easier,” he said.
“We have a good bunch of parents who just let you concentrate on what you want to do and how you want to coach and they were a great bunch of kids too.”