THE south west’s first ever Big Freeze event surpassed all expectations at Leura Oval on Saturday with a final tally of just over $30,000 expected for the Fight Motor Neurone Disease (MND) appeal.
Shrieks of laughter mixed with breathless gasps as 10 south west identities plunged into a -2 degree Celsius ice water pool.
Camperdown Football Netball Club president Kevin Russell dressed up as Spiderman and was the first to take the icy dunking.
Former Camperdown netballer Emily Stephens made a splash dressed as club committee-man Peter Conheady and Hampden Football Netball League president John Ross slid into the water dressed as a 60s footballer, complete with mullet and a mo.
Other participants included speedway Grand Annual Sprintcar winner Corey McCullagh with a steering wheel in firm grip, 3YB’s Kate Meade and Jon Vertigan dressed respectively as Elsa from the movie ‘Frozen’ and Queen Elizabeth, Neville ‘Nifty’ Wilson in his jockey silks, while Cobden Football Netball Club president Chris Walsh and former netballer Kathryn Robertson teamed up as Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble with Coast FM’s Matty ‘The Big Fella’ Stewart covered in tattoos à la Dustin Martin fame, rounding out the dunkings.
Local friends Tracey Telford, Sarah Dunn and Danielle Clark were behind the event, which had the full support of Big Freeze ambassador and MND sufferer Neil Daniher.
“Sarah’s father died from MND a few years ago and we’ve been running small fundraisers ever since,” Ms Telford said.
“We’ve held raffles, sausage sizzles and a masquerade ball in the past but decided it was time to ramp things up a bit and stage something bigger.
“It’s been a huge amount of work bringing it all together and we’re completely overwhelmed with the support and backing we received along the way.
“We’re also blown-away with the generosity of our community – we had a target of $15,000, so to raise around $30,000 is really humbling.”
Ms Telford said people had donated so much towards the day that all the money raised would go directly to the Fight MND appeal.
Each of the participants were required to raise a minimum of $500 for the cause, with most doubling that figure and Kathryn Robertson amassing $2400.
The Big Freeze plunge also included a silent auction which saw 18 donated prize packages up for grabs – everything from Premier Speedway season passes to a weekend away at Wye River.
The tally received a final boost from collection tins which were placed at every Hampden League game and Warrnambool and District League game.
“The atmosphere at Leura Oval was absolutely fantastic,” Ms Telford said.
“People were laughing, screaming and cheering, so it was pretty rowdy.
“Everything went so well that we’re looking to stage the event again next year, but we’ll probably move it around to a different football match to spread the awareness about MND even further.”
A progressive, terminal neurological disease, MND robs sufferers of their ability to walk, talk, eat and eventually breathe while the mind stays unaffected.
At least two Australians are diagnosed with the disease every day, with most surviving for an average of just 18 months.
“The South West’s Big Freeze has not only raised much needed funds to help win the battle against MND, it has raised much needed awareness about the disease and that can only be a good thing,” Ms Telford said.
“On behalf of the three of us, we really thank everyone who got behind the day and made it the success it was.”