There’s a reason Shane Mumford is the heart and soul of the GWS Giants.
Due to his team-lifting abilities, the bulldozing ruckman is the barometer of his side and is considered their most important player.
But the Mumford name isn’t only associated with battling on the field, with the lion-hearted, big man’s sister Deanna forced to deal with Cerebral Palsy her whole life.
Two years younger than her footballing brother, Deanna was forced to undergo a crucial surgery to improve her quality of life in her teens, which Mumford admittedly didn’t wholly understand at the time.
Now able to recognise the severity of the situation, Mumford believes he was lucky to continue his footy passion.
“It took me a long time to actually grasp what was happening. When you’re a kid, you’re only thinking of yourself,” Mumford told AFLPlayers.com.au.
“I remember being quite upset that I had to quit basketball at 15 at the Dandenong Ranges because Deanna needed a big operation to straighten out her legs and help her walk properly again.
“The mentality of a kid meant I didn’t understand exactly how big of a deal it was and how big of an operation it was but she had to learn how to walk again after the operation on her hips, knees and ankles and it wasn’t until later on when I realised how important that was.
“I was probably lucky mum and dad continued to let me play footy, to be honest.”
Cerebral palsy (CP) is a physical disability that affects movement and posture due to damage to the developing brain either during pregnancy or shortly after birth. CP is a permanent, life-long condition but generally won’t worsen over time.
With the family residing in Bunyip, Mumford’s parents had to travel to Melbourne regularly for Deanna’s rehabilitation sessions where she was forced to learn how to walk again.
She’s actually one of the lucky ones and isn’t bound to a wheelchair like the majority of those suffering Cerebral Palsy.
The process of Deanna learning to walk with the aid of crutches, meant Mumford’s parents didn’t have time to drive him to basketball so footy was the only option.
But since entering the AFL system and dealing with his own long-term injuries, Mumford has a better understanding of the uphill battle his sister has faced.
“To actually learn to walk again, it was a very long process. She had plaster on for something around 12 weeks then had to walk with a frame and slowly got rid of the frame and progressed to crutches.
“It was a long process which I’m probably more aware of now given I play a sport that has long-term injuries and I’ve had extended periods in rehab. I guess now I can appreciate just how hard it would’ve been for her at the time.”
Having seen his sister go through the Cerebral Palsy journey, Mumford was keen to raise the option of donating to the Cerebral Palsy Alliance to the GWS playing group.
Through the AFL Players Care fund, the Giants donated $5,000 to the charity, which provides support to those affected by Cerebral Palsy and their families.
Watching the work of the charity up close as a child, Mumford has an appreciation for their efforts.
“The Cerebral Palsy Alliance helped out Deanna throughout our lives and that’s when I first saw, as a kid, people really struggling in wheelchairs and appreciated Deanna being able to get around well enough on her own,” Mumford added.
“It was an eye-opener to see that as a kid so anyway I can give back, it’s the least I can do.”