On Wednesday 25 September 2019, AFL legends united at Palladium at Crown to raise funds for Variety – the Children’s Charity Victoria. Footy stars from various teams joined forces at The Variety Toyota AFL Grand Final Lunch to help kids in need. Officially endorsed by the AFL, for over 30 years this Melbourne institution has been a lively celebration of our nation’s great game that has had far-reaching impact improving the lives of sick, disadvantaged and special needs children.
The event began by paying tribute to the late, great Danny Frawley, who was due to appear on the day. With entertainment from AFL legends Billy Brownless, Jason Dunstall, Alex Rance and Stevie J, Variety brought some of the best of the game together to celebrate an incredible season of footy. MC’d by none other than the ‘Voice of the AFL’ Craig Willis, alongside Kate Meade from ACE Radio and the Women of Influence Podcast, it was a big day! To round it out on a high, Mike Brady took to the stage for a rendition of football’s iconic anthem “Up There Cazaly” which is celebrating 40 years in 2019!
Maureen Hafey presented the coveted Tom Hafey Variety Heart of Football Award which acknowledges a current AFL player who has inspired us through his or her selfless actions and dedication to children. This year, we are proud to be presenting the award to Gary Rohan from the Geelong Football Club for his outstanding work and advocacy with the Sensory Zone at GMHBA Stadium, Barwon Health University Hospital and Run4Kids assisting the Barwon Health Foundation. Gary joins an impressive list of previous award winners including teammates Scott Selwood and Harry Taylor as well as the likes of Eddie Betts, Robert Harvey, Luke Power, Nick Maxwell, Jack Hombsch and Luke Ball.
And the awards didn’t stop there! Next up was the Variety Young Sports Achiever Award which goes to a young person who has overcome adversity to achieve an outstanding level of success in sport. Joining the ranks of nine-time Grand Slam Winner Dylan Alcott OAM and Paralympians; Heath Davidson, Samuel Rizzo and Nicholas Hum, is 15-year-old Jack Howell. Jack was born with Symbrachydactyly, a congenital absence of the left hand and has competed in high level sports since age 10. He is also the youngest para-triathlete to ever be categorised as an elite athlete by the AIS and Triathlon Australia.
This year, the Variety Toyota AFL Grand Final Lunch raised over $155,000 for kids in need! This year, we set out to raise enough to fund four assistance dogs for Victorian Kids. Thanks to your incredible support, we can fund at least FIVE life changing dogs for kids with special needs.
Once again, a huge thank you to all of our guests, volunteers, supporters and sponsors who made this event possible. We can’t wait to have you back next year!