News & Lifestyle | 02 April 2019
Three Aussie athletes and their incredible acts of kindness
The life of an elite athlete can be glamorous – often filled with success, fame and fortune.
And by that same token, they’re often perceived as being, conceited, selfish and out of touch with the common person.
But not all elite athletes can be painted with this brush. There are elite sporting men and women who understand the power of their influence and their capacity to help those in need.
Here are three examples of top Aussie athletes going out of their way to engage in selfless and meaningful acts of kindness.
Trent Hodkinson (rugby league)
Current Manly playmaker Trent Hodkinson was at the top of his game when he sealed a mega-deal to move to Newcastle in 2015, not long after leading NSW to their first State of Origin triumph in almost a decade.
Unfortunately for Hodkinson, things weren’t going his way on the field and he was dropped from the first grade squad. Not being one to sulk and shut himself off from the media and other commitments, Hodkinson managed his time playing in the lower grades with his charity work – establishing ‘Tren7’s Kick for Kids’. It was this extra work he was putting into his charity that saw him cross paths with 15-year-old cancer sufferer Hannah Rye.
The footy star built up a special friendship with Hannah and her family in the early months of 2017 and he was particularly inspired by the teenager’s bravery. Hannah’s health deteriorated throughout that year and it was looking increasingly unlikely she would be able to attend her year 10 formal, an event she’d been looking forward to all year. Hodkinson knew how much she wanted to attend and so he took it upon himself to rent a limousine, throw on a suit and personally escort her to the event ensuring she was comfortable and supported the entire night.
For Hannah, it was an event she’d never forget and the gesture made national headlines. However, Hodkinson was quick to point out that he certainly didn’t expect his appearance to make the news, nor did he intend to gain media attention – “but hopefully it can bring awareness to ewing sarcoma, the type of cancer she is going through.”
Less than two months after that special night, Hannah lost her battle with the disease and passed away. Her funeral was attended by Hodkinson and a handful of his Knights teammates and Hannah’s mum went on to cite that night as one of the brightest in her daughter’s life.
Moana Hope (AFLW)
She’s AFLW’s biggest star and most recognisable face, but not too many people know about the sacrifices and unconditional devotion Moana Hope has to her disabled sister.
Hope grew up in the housing commissions of Broadmeadow in Melbourne alongside her 13 siblings. Her father passed away when she was 13 and her mother has been battling a number of illnesses such as cancer and brain tumours for the best part of the last 10 years. The gifted athlete has always been close to her family but she developed a particularly special bond with her sister Lavinia who is disabled and suffers from a rare neurological disorder known as Mobius Syndrome (that paralyses a sufferer’s face and eyes completely).
Despite her blossoming sporting career, Moana has managed to balance her sporting commitments and full-time work with being the full-time carer for Lavinia for most of her adult life.
In 2018, Moana was a contestant on hit show Survivor: Champions v Contenders alongside some of Australia’s most celebrated athletes such as Shane Gould, Mat Rodgers and Lydia Lassila.
As with most things, Hope was excelling in the game setting and was tabbed early on as one of the favourites to win the contest. However, as the days went on, the Aussie Rules player couldn’t stop thinking about her sister Lavinia and how she was coping without her. She tried to tell herself that her sister was in good hands but the urge to be reunited and look after her grew too strong, and Hope made the decision to leave the show to take care of Lavinia.
“I’ve never spent time away from her before. Being away from her was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I was excited to do the show for me but I just had to be there for her,” Hope said.
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We didn’t tell Vinny when I was coming home. Being away from her with no contact was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done…. I think you can tell it was mutual. 🤗😍 Wait till you see the long version of this 😭. #sisterlove #vinny #moments #suprise #longversiontofollow #missedher
David Pocock (rugby union)
You wouldn’t expect a self-professed feminist, LGBTI campaigner, save the rhinos protester and environmental activist to be one of the best rugby players in the world – but that’s exactly what David Pocock is.
For years, the Zimbabwean-born Wallaby has juggled his time playing professional rugby with being an active campaigner for a range of causes that are particularly close to his heart. But it’s Pocock and his partner Emma’s selfless decision to spend the bulk of his one-year sabbatical in Zimbabwe repairing schools and giving back to the country of his birth that really stands out.
Pocock is not the first high-profile player to be granted a one-year sabbatical in the past few years, but players usually take the time off to holiday in exotic locations, work on their outside business interests or rest their body from the physical rigours of weekly competition in a bid to extend their careers. However, Pocock specifically decided to head to southern Africa for six months, to understand the everyday struggle of the people and help give back to a nation still dealing with the heavy fallout of the regime of long-time president Robert Mugabe.
“It was a bit of an eye-opener. I love the land, I love the people . . . and anything you can do to make a difference will go a long way to creating an optimistic future for Zimbabwe,” Pocock recounted.