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Ice bucket challenge makes a splash in Benalla

Residents from all walks of life dumped buckets of ice water over their heads last week to raise money for motor neurone disease research.

MONIQUE FREER September 3, 2014 3:30am

Mick Rodger Act 2 D-Feet MND committee member Robyn Smith was one of about 50 Benalla residents who participated in the ice bucket challenge last Tuesday.


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An international fundraising phenomenon has well and truly made a splash in Benalla.

On Tuesday last week more than 50 people gathered at the Lake Benalla foreshore to participate in the ALS ice-bucket challenge, in support of those who suffer from motor neurone disease.

The ALS challenge began in the United States last month and involved participants pouring a bucket of iced water over their heads to raise money and awareness for amyotrophic lateral disease.

ALS is not a term frequently used in Australia. Instead it is more commonly known as motor neurone disease, the same disease that claimed the life of Benalla resident Mick Rodger in March 2010.

His widow Robyn Smith, daughter Martine Rodger, FCJ College Benalla students, members of the Mick Rodger Act 2 D-Feet MND committee and Benalla Saints Sports Club personnel joined forces to dump the icy lake water on their heads last week.

‘‘We’ve tried all sorts of things to get it on the radar and this has been some ingenious idea that’s raised the profile and people are talking about it,’’ Ms Smith said.

‘‘I’ve never heard so many people talking about motor neurone disease before.’’

Since 2008 Mr Rodger’s family and friends have rallied to create a legacy in his memory and raise valuable funds for MND research.

‘‘In Benalla we’ve raised over $600000 with the event here and the ball in Melbourne, but to raise those sorts of dollars means more scientists can be brought in,’’ Ms Smith said.

‘‘They’ve made some significant findings, so we can now build on those findings and we’re more than likely to be able to find a cure. They say they’re not too far away but it’s that consistent funding that we need to be able to keep it going.’’

The effort of the Benalla community was not just in memory of Mick Rodger but in support of locals Marj Symes and Peter Bennett, who are suffering from MND.

Mr Bennett and his family completed the ice-bucket challenge on Saturday after Benalla’s home-ground clash with Seymour, surrounded by players, club personnel and supporters.

‘‘That’s the power of community in a small community, it’s just being surrounded,’’ Ms Smith said.

‘‘One of the things we found was that it was much easier to deal with because we were supported by community and you didn’t feel on your own.

‘‘We’ve been able to pass that message on to our children about the legacy of community. It is worth helping the community and it is worth supporting people.’’

Mr Bennett was also at the ice-bucket challenge last Tuesday and said he was uplifted by the display of support.

‘‘It’s fantastic, you’ve got friends, associates and people you may not know, all doing it,’’ Mr Bennett said.

On Thursday Mick Rodger Act 2 D-Feet MND committee member and Liberal candidate for Euroa Tony Schneider delighted a group of kindergarten students by participating in the challenge, for a cause he said was close to his heart.

More than $2000 was raised in Benalla from donations last week.

Anyone wishing to donate to the cause is encouraged to phone Robyn Smith on 57627494.

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