It all began with a kick-a-thon one day at the Cronulla Caringbah junior club in Sharks territory but Kick 4 Kids wants to spread the word about its mission to raise money to help children with illness.
So last Friday, brothers Mitchell and Jake Gillard began a 1000km tour of duty from Brisbane Broncos’ Red Hill base to Cronulla Sharks’ home, which included dropping in a Cbus Super Stadium yesterday to catch up with the Titans on the way through.
Mitchell, 11, and Jake, 9, who now at on the NSW Central Coast, aim to kick 1000 goals along the way and raise awareness and funds for the unique program established 12 years ago by father Dean.
The plan is for junior clubs throughout Australia to allocate a day in July where they have their own kick-a-thon to raise funds for K4K which goes for children in need, like seven-year-old Chloe Saxby who has the very rare condition called Vanishing White Matter Disease (VWM).
Chloe’s parents are trying to raise over $800,000 to save her life.
Chloe had a vomiting attack in February 2012 when she was three and weeks later was found to have VWM which is an extremely rare, genetic, degenerative, terminal brain disease that affects mostly children.
This disease is devastating, with most patients diagnosed between the ages of two and six years old. In a very short period of time, it causes the inability to walk, talk and eat as well as blindness, deafness, loss of motor skills, mental retardation, spasticity, seizures, and coma and is followed by death often before reaching teenage years.
There is currently no treatment or cure available but the Saxby family are raising money to go towards much-needed research.
K4K is also donating funds in 2016 to the Starlight Children’s Foundation and Humpty Dumpty Foundation.
Founder Dean Gillard explained how the program has grown.
“It initially started at my junior club Cronulla Caringbah when we had a kick-a-thon to raise money but the initiative gathered support from plenty of people, including the Cronulla Sharks, and we have raised about $150,000 now for different cases and charities,” he said.
“We have decided to get a lot more clubs involved so we are going from Brisbane to Cronulla over a week and dropping into clubs along the way, with the boys aiming to kick 1000 goals along the way.”
The tour took in a Broncos training session last Friday and includes visits to Aspley Devils, Nerang Roosters, Burleigh Bears, and the Titans' stadium yesterday afternoon where Titans Ash Taylor and Cameron Cullen joined the boys, before heading into NSW.
There will be stops, and more kicking, at Coffs Harbour, Nambucca Heads, Newcastle Central Coast and then back to where it all began at Cronulla.
In the past, the Gillards have organised VIP days to NRL matches in Sydney for country based families who have had children endure long stints in hospital and are working towards selected children enjoying a “day as an NRL player” where they get to experience a day in the life of a player including training, lunch and game day.
“It was great to help Mitchell and Jake kick a few goals and give them tips,” said Taylor. “I hope I can kick 1000 goals in my NRL career.
“It was all for a great cause and I hope junior clubs get behind them and help raise some money.”
PICTURED (from left): Cameron, Jake, Mitchell and Ash.
Funding targets for 2016 are:
Starlight Children’s Foundation - https://starlight.org.au//
Find a Cure for Chloe - http://www.chloesaxby.com.au/
Humpty Dumpty Foundation - http://www.humpty.com.au/
For more information about Kick 4 Kids go to: kick4kids.net.au