This Saturday will mark the last round of the Canberra Raiders Cup, but for the Yass Magpies and the Goulburn Bulldogs, it will be a round with far more significance than that.
The two teams will play in Goulburn, and the match is being used as an opportunity by the Bulldogs to raise funds which will go towards funding a Parkinson’s nurse to work across the Yass and Goulburn region.
Ian Irwin, who was recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s, and his wife Maggie, spoke to the difficulty of living with Parkinson’s in rural areas.
“It’s not so much when people are initially diagnosed, but as they go on, they do deteriorate,” Maggie said.
“No matter what medication they’re on, and they get to the point where they’re wheelchair-bound and things like that.”
“I went through a period of being very scared,” Ian added.
“It was very debilitating. You can’t talk, you can’t swallow, you can't chew properly, there’s lots of things you can’t do with your hands.”
According to the Murrumbidgee Primary Health network, the aim of a Parkinson’s support nurse is to “assist people diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease (and their carers and families) to navigate the health system through care coordination and the provision of information to maximise self-management, as well as providing linkages to ongoing support services.”
There is no such service in the Yass and Goulburn region, and Bulldogs club president Joe Stephens estimated the annual cost of employment for such a nurse to be roughly $150,000.
Meanwhile, a 2014 report from Parkinson’s Australia found that the disease was costing the nation nearly $10 billion every year. The employment of specialist nurses was one of the steps listed towards lowering that cost.
So, in order to help raise the requisite funds, the Goulburn Workers Club, the Rotary Club of Goulburn Argyle, and the Bulldogs will combine their efforts this weekend.
In support of the cause, the Goulburn players will be wearing purple and white socks, while the Rotary club will pass around donation buckets.
The idea for the fundraiser came about, as Stephens explained, due to “the Goulburn Workers Club donating $60,000 to Parkinson’s.
“We’re trying to do our bit over the next few seasons and help assist with that.”
Rotarian Dick Kearins said that he fully expects the Goulburn community to get behind the Bulldogs this weekend for a good cause.
“Yeah, Goulburn’s good,” Kearins said.
“It really does get in and do its bit to support all sorts of causes, particularly around people who have illnesses.
“There is a need for community support, just as much as government support.”