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EDITORIAL: Blue beanies to fight ‘The Beast’

The blue beanies are making a comeback in 2024 – this year marking the 10th anniversary of the Big Freeze, part of Neale Daniher’s campaign to raise money and awareness of motor neurone disease, MND.

Daniher, a former Essendon Football Club captain and coach of the Melbourne Football Club, was diagnosed with MND in 2013 and has since inspired the nation with his efforts to progress treatments and find a cure for the condition he calls ‘The Beast’.

Neale actually went to my old school, Assumption College Kilmore – many years before me so I don’t know him personally – but from all accounts, the characteristics that make him a special individual began in his early years. His Assumption football coach Ray Carroll would often tell me stories about Neale from his schoolboy football days, and how even at that age, he inspired his teammates with his actions on the field and his leadership.

His battle with MND has been amazing to watch – many of us know someone who has battled the insidious disease and had their lives cut short.

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Every day at least two people are diagnosed with MND in Australia, with sufferers progressively losing the ability to walk, talk, feed themselves, swallow, and ultimately, breathe. An estimated 2100 Australians live with MND each day.

Neale is a marvel. 

To not only battle MND, but to have the courage to do so in a public manner has been inspirational. But to then, along with his family, think of the bigger picture and lead a huge campaign, FightMND, to raise money to research a cure for the disease, is next level.

FightMND has invested more than $55 million since its creation in 2014 in research, including drug development and clinical trials.

The public only really see Neale on his good days – when he is up for making it out to events. 

Sadly, the nature of the disease is that it progresses to more bad days than good days.

Many associated with the media in Horsham and Bendigo, and its wider communities, know all too well the ultimate effect that MND has, as last year we lost former Wimmera Mail-Times editor Rod Case to it.

One of the last messages I received from Rod was during his battle:
“It’s a struggle. Legs are shot and hands starting weaken. Have to use a ventilator to help breathing most of the time. That means I find it hard to talk. It’s a bastard. It’s like slow torture. The one positive is that ‘The Beast’ hasn’t worked out how to get your mind, so that’s good. I can communicate with people through messenger and email, so that helps with my sanity a lot. I’m getting all the support in the world, so that’s wonderful, too.”

Gracious to the end, Rod, much like Neale, was an inspiration to many – even before his MND battle.

‘The Beast’ is a cruel disease that not only robs so many of a quality of life, but cuts their lives short.

In the lead-up to the Big Freeze, where AFL and sporting personalities slide into freezing cold water at the Melbourne versus Collingwood match on the King’s Birthday, there will be plenty of opportunities to donate to help the cause. 

Please, if you can afford to part with a few dollars, support the quest to find a cure for MND. Beanies are available from Coles and Bunnings or visit

The entire May 22, 2024 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!