17 October 2023

Canberra Raiders star and Elliott Gray lead charge in Red Wig Challenge

| Morgan Kenyon
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Jamal Fogarty signing Raiders hat for child in hospital

NRL isn’t the only passion of Canberra Raiders’ Jamal Fogarty – he is also ambassador for Ronald McDonald House Canberra. Photo: Canberra Raiders.

If your child was seriously ill or injured and needed treatment hundreds of kilometres away, what would you do?

Commuting to and from hospital can take a toll, and for many families, paying for accommodation long term just isn’t an option.

When finding something as simple as a home-cooked meal and bed to sleep in becomes a battle, Ronald McDonald House Canberra (RMHC) steps in. The team provides a home away from home, with the community, space and resources families need to recharge.

This October RMHC once again runs its annual Red Wig Challenge. All Canberrans are invited to get out and about in the spring sunshine, and walk, run or glide for a cause.

READ ALSO Families with sick kids find time to reconnect at Ronald McDonald’s Batemans Bay retreat

Canberra Raiders’ Jamal Fogarty will be doing just that – he donned the red wig earlier this year, signing on as ambassador for the ACT & South East NSW chapter.

“I grew up in a small town and know what a difference having a caring community around you makes when times are tough,” he says.

“My mum had major brain surgery twice when we were young, which eventually resulted in her using a wheelchair.

“Our community rallied around us while she was unwell and helped take us to footy games, go on grocery runs, and do housework and such. I will never forget how much it helped our family, to have the time and space to focus on more important things.”

Jamal’s role as ambassador involves championing fundraising campaigns including the Red Wig Challenge, but he also visits sick kids and their families during hospital stays.

“It’s really important that we feel connected to people who can share our experience and support us through tough times. RMHC is a genuine community that rallies around each other, just like mine did for my family growing up,” Jamal says.

“If I can show people my personality and that I care, and hopefully brighten their day, I’ve done a good job.

“Sometimes it means playing with toys and chatting to the kids, maybe even bringing them a jersey or a footy to keep if they’re a bit older. But other days it’s just listening to parents’ troubles, making them feel seen and heard.”

READ ALSO Treading the path less taken: two women delve back into study for their communities

Boutique recruitment agency Elliott Gray is another local organisation backing the upcoming challenge. The agency has sponsored RMHC rooms at the Centenary Hospital for Women and Children since 2020.

“I think people with a platform have a responsibility to stand behind good causes,” says director and co-founder, Elsa Gray-Murphy.

“My family moved to Australia as economic refugees when I was six years old. Being supported in our own time of need really inspired me to give back, and as a mother, I’m especially touched by the work RMHC does.”

Elliott Gray’s leadership team has committed to 50 kilometres each across the month, using their platform to engage clients and business partners and encourage them to take part.

Jamal urges Canberrans to get involved in the 2023 Red Wig Challenge, as it runs throughout October.

“I’m dedicating a few kilometres a day to the Red Wig Challenge, but you can exercise as little or as much as you like,” he says.

“Whether you raise $10, $100 or more, every effort makes a difference.”

Ronald McDonald House Canberra (RMHC) provides families with seriously ill or injured children and premature babies with a home away from home in the Centenary Hospital for Women and Children.

Register for the #RedWigChallenge and walk, run or glide to support their hard work. Join individually or as a team, set your own goal and spread the word.

Original Article published by Morgan Kenyon on Riotact.


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