It’s a story that lends itself beautifully to a fairytale, but which also serves as a reminder that not everyone gets their happily ever after.
The Mark Hughes Foundation’s sixth annual Beanie for Brain Cancer fundraising campaign depicts Mark Hughes as a brave knight whose quest is to defeat the evil disease.
The former Newcastle Knight and brain cancer survivor rises to the challenge in a full suit of shining armour, while ex-teammate Paul “Chief” Harragon reads the once-upon-a-time story to Hughes’ seven-year-old daughter, Bonnie.
The seed was sown in 2014 after the foundation’s first campaign selling beanies, spurred by Hughes’ shock diagnosis in 2013.
“Early in the peace, we felt there was something special brewing in these beanies,” Mark told Newcastle Weekly.
“[Chief] said, “There’s magic in these beanies, mate,” and, as it turns out, he was right.
“How else can we explain the phenomenal support we’ve received?”
Over the years, the flagship fundraiser and supporter events have raked in more than $10 million to bankroll brain cancer research.
In March, the foundation’s scientific committee distributed more than $725,000 among five innovative research projects, focusing on immunotherapy.
Most of the research the foundation funds is done locally at the Hunter Medical Research Institute.
Hughes pointed to “catastrophic” statistics and survival rates – including the fact that brain cancer kills more children and adults under 40 than any other cancer – to accentuate why the fight was far from over.
“It’s very important that we keep the foot on full throttle,” he said.
“There are so many others out there that need answers and need them fast.”
Still undergoing regular check-ups after intensive chemotherapy and radiation treatment after his initial diagnosis, Hughes is supported by his wife, Kirralee, and their three children, Dane, Zac and Bonnie, as together they strive for a world without brain cancer.
One way you can help is by buying a beanie from your local stockist. This year Lowes has come on board in addition to IGA stores in NSW and selected ones in Queensland.
Once again Newcastle Knights fans are encouraged to beanie-up for the NRL Beanie for Brain Cancer Round 19 on Friday 26 July when the Knights take on the Wests Tigers at home.
You can also get your school or business involved in Beanie Week, starting Sunday 28 July – or at any time you wish.
Go to markhughesfoundation.com.au for more information.