This week, our regular columnist Mary Kaye writes about something that is bringing the entire Rugby League family together. Remember you can find more of her work on ladieswholeague.com, or scroll down to find out Ladies Who League's commitment this week to #RiseForAlex.
Every now and again events take place which remind us how important it is to remember the bigger picture. For me, one of those events was in March this year when 22 year old Alex McKinnon suffered a career ending spinal injury in the game between the Newcastle Knights and the Melbourne Storm at AAMI Stadium.
Alex has spent the 4 months since his injury in intensive care, showing a fierce determination to recover and one day walk again. Alex now has full head and neck movement. He also has movement in his shoulders, in some of his fingers and has full elbow and wrist extension and flexion. It is pleasing to see him making progress and to still have such a positive outlook, despite what he has been through.
Alex and his horrific injury has been one of the talking points for the entirety of the NRL season and rightly so. Sport is something which brings people together and which brings tremendous joy to people around the world. McKinnon's injury was a timely reminder to all of us about what's important and of the tremendous impact which playing rugby league can have on the human body.
This week, I am especially proud to be an NRL supporter and to see the way the NRL and all the clubs have joined together for 'RiseForAlex round which was launched on Monday at ANZ Stadium. Alex, of course, was in attendance, supported by his Newcastle family including Wayne Bennett, Willie Mason, Darius Boyd, Korbin Sims and Dane Gagai.
While Alex's horrific injury was one of our darkest moments this season, this weekend, when we all unite, we can turn it into a moment of inspiration.
I could talk about how important it is for the Blue and Gold family to be at Pirtek Stadium on Friday night to help the boys get across the line against the South Sydney Rabbitohs, or I could simply encourage all of you to get there so that together we can 'Rise for Alex'.
For every NRL fan that attends a game during 19, the NRL will donate one dollar to the RiseForAlex Fund - so let's make this game a sell out.
There has already been tremendous support for the Round. The Daily Telegraph will donate one dollar for every paper sold on Saturday, Jonathan Thurston will wear a special No. 16 jumper in McKinnon’s honour, while Trent Merrin from the St George Illawarra Dragons will auction off the boots he will wear in his 100th game for the Dragons. NRL ticketed members and fans who buy a ticket to any NRL game this weekend will get free entry to the stadium as part of the Round.
It's going to be a very emotional, yet inspirational weekend. I could not be prouder to see the Rugby League community unite for a very special round of football to help get behind not just a tremendous athlete, but a tremendous role model whose positivity and zest for life has been inspirational to all of us.
See you all at Pirtek Stadium.