NEALE Daniher is a warrior. He is a former Essendon captain and Melbourne coach in the AFL but, more than anything, just a fighter.
The fight he has led against Motor Neurone Disease (MND) has captured the attention of the sporting landscape, raising more than $12 million in the last three years.
And Daniher’s journey raising awareness and much-needed funds to fight the disease will bring him to Echuca-Moama on Friday, October 13.
Daniher’s Drive is a four-day trip through regional Victoria and New South Wales, and Daniher said he was looking forward to a good time while fundraising to continue the search for a cure.
‘‘We’re coming to town and we’re looking forward to spending the night there,’’ Daniher said.
‘‘People know about the Big Freeze and the beanies, that’s our city event; Daniher’s Drive is our rural and country fundraising event. It’s our third year doing it, and each evening we have a fantastic night.
‘‘There’s 100 cars taking part that have been fundraising for nine months; the drive is a celebration and a fun three or four days to raise awareness. We’re fighting MND, but it’s always fun as we fundraise.’’
Daniher was diagnosed with MND in 2013 and continues to drive his brilliant campaign aimed at finding a cure for a disease he referred to as ‘‘the beast’’.
‘‘It slowly paralyses the body because the muscles stop working. Eventually you can’t walk or talk, or speak and swallow,’’ he said.
‘‘It’s typically aggressive and not a great way to go.
‘‘If we don’t find a cure Australians will keep dying from this disease. It’s important, and when I was diagnosed three or four years ago very little was known.
‘‘Now, through the generosity of people all over Australia including in Echuca-Moama, we’re making progress.’’
The four-day tour’s Echuca-Moama leg will be marked with a Comedy Gala Auction night at Dungula, with a limited number of tables still available for purchase.
Superstar comedians Dave Hughes and Adam Rozenbachs will perform at the event, with tables of eight available to be purchased for $960 at www.fightmnd.org.au.
Hughes and Rozenbachs are just some of the big names across sports and entertainment who have thrown their support behind Daniher’s campaign. He said it, combined with the public backing, gave him plenty of hope going forward.
‘‘It’s fantastic and overwhelming; it’s mums and dads and kids and grandparents all getting behind the cause. It gives great hope of a treatment and a cure,’’ he said.
‘‘We’re looking forward to Echuca-Moama and having a good event, and we’re also looking forward to taking our drive out on the river. We’ve got a paddlesteamer trip organised, as well as our gala comedy night at Dungula.’’
Daniher also encouraged those interested in contributing to the cause to buy a ticket in the Daniher’s Drive raffle. First prize is a brand new Volvo V40 valued at $45,000, donated by Volvo Cars Brighton.
Tickets, limited to 3,000, are $100, with the raffle to be drawn the following night in Ballarat.
Many members of the famous Daniher footballing family — brothers Anthony, Chris and Terry as well as high-flying nephew Joe — will join Neale on the drive, with a host of former AFL footballers making the trip as well.