In Tragic Times The Sporting World Shows We're All On The Same Team
As the news of the death of Jarrod Lyle rocks the sporting world, acts of kindness from strangers are a light in the darkness.
Today is the saddest of days with the news Australian golfer Jarrod Lyle, husband to Bri and father to little Lusi and Jemma, last night died of cancer aged just 36.
Australian hearts, and those around the world who knew the popular Victorian sportsman, are breaking and the thought of a beautiful, young family man cruelled by insidious disease leaves a sick feeling in the stomach.
In a statement, his wife said she and their daughters were filled with grief and now must confront their lives without the greatest husband and father they could have wished for.
"At the same time, we have been blessed and overwhelmed with the messages and actions of support from around the world and feel comforted that Jarrod was able to happily impact so many people throughout his life. Our thanks to you all.
"Jarrod was able to take in many of the unbelievable kind and generous acts and words in his final few days and was overwhelmed by the emotional outpouring."
Those acts and gestures, mostly from complete strangers, are the light to this incredible darkness.
Earlier this week, Melbourne sports radio station 1116 SEN turned its Monday programming into Jarrod Lyle Day.
Friends of the golfer, opponents and some of sport's biggest names featured on programs across the day and a hotline was set up for listeners to donate.
With the big hearts and generosity of a loyal audience, plus incredible corporate support, $178,000 was raised, directly going to a trust fund for his darling Lusi and Jemma.
This is the most poignant, beautiful example of sport 'doin' good' and the wider sporting family wrapping its arms around its own.
Sadly, the need to embrace, support and fundraise is all too frequent. But for every heartbreak, in the sporting world, is a moving response.
Back in May, the NRL community rallied to raise $2.6 million through its Beanies for Brain Cancer Round for the Mark Hughes Foundation which funds crucial brain cancer research.
A fullback, Hughes played 161 games for the Newcastle Knights and started his foundation in 2013 following his own devastating diagnosis. This year's efforts smashed last year's inaugural fundraiser by almost $870,000.
The following month, in Melbourne, the inspirational Neale Daniher, former AFL player and coach, was front and centre of Big Freeze 4, an annual event for Motor Neuron Disease -- an illness which has crippled the mind and body of a healthy husband and father who should be in his the prime of life.
Through donations and the popular blue Fight MND beanie, which sells out like hotcakes, a staggering $6.5 million dollars was raised.
And just last month, the AFL community came together again for Maddie's Match ,an annual fixture between St Kilda and Richmond in memory of 26-year-old Maddie Riewoldt, younger sister of legendary Saints captain Nick and cousin of Richmond premiership star Jack.
Maddie passed away in 2015 after suffering from blood cancer Aplastic Anaemia for five years. The Saints donned a special guernsey and Etihad Stadium was a striking sea of purple, Maddie's favourite colour, and the theme of the foundation Maddie Riewoldt's Vision, formed in her honour. The sporting world came together once again, digging deep. Almost $1.5 million dollars deep.
Unfortunately, most everyday Aussies don't have a profile or platform to create awareness to raise critical funds.
Said sporting types realise and are grateful for their voice and audience, and use it for the greater good, and for other people suffering the same illnesses.
As Bri and her young girls face the toughest of times, I hope they can take strength, comfort and courage from the phenomenal acts of love and generosity of the sporting family.
May it be their light today and forever.