This article was originally published on the Port Adelaide Football Club website.
Port Adelaide’s players have donated $5,000 to the youth cancer organisation CanTeen to help support a Premiership-winning champion’s charity ride.
Michael Wilson won two SANFL Premierships with the club as well as being part of the 2004 history-making AFL Premiership team.
The 41-year-old is taking part in CanTeen’s Road Raise, which helps raise vital funds to support the organisation.
“Wilbur”, as he is affectionately known among Port Adelaide faithful, and his family were personally touched by cancer in 2015 when one of his sons, Tom Wilson, was diagnosed with a benign brain tumour.
“We’ve had a lot of support from a lot of different agencies and CanTeen is one my family and I are happy to support,” said the 1997 AFL Rising Star.
It was the support the Wilson family received from CanTeen that prompted Wilson to want to take part in the 2018 Road Raise, which sees a group of riders cycle from Adelaide to Melbourne over seven days.
“A couple of years ago I was asked by CanTeen to go on their ride and I couldn’t do it but this year I’m looking forward to it and spending some time with some like-minded people, raising some awareness for CanTeen and doing something good for the community.
“I like riding, I like keeping fit and there’s a good group of people going, so given the chance to ride to Melbourne doesn’t come up often, it’ll be great.”
Port Adelaide defender and AFL Players’ Association delegate, Tom Jonas, said the club’s $5,000 donation was part of the AFL Players Care Program.
“Given Wilbur’s close connection with CanTeen, we thought we would support them and give $5,000 to CanTeen. Each year the players donate a percentage of their match fees to a charity of their own choice,” Jonas said.
“They’ve obviously done a lot for the community and Wilbur’s family so we’re really proud to be a part of that and give back. I’m not sure if it’s a race but if it was he’d be winning it.”
AFL Players Care is the players’ official charity initiative and was established in 2014 with players contributing $50 of their match fee.
Half of that is donated to the AFL Players’ official charity partner, Ladder, to help tackle youth homelessness, while the rest is contributed to the AFL Players Care fund which is distributed to clubs so players can support other charities they are passionate about.
The CanTeen Road Raise has collected more than $300,000 in the past two years and is aiming to raise another $200,000 in 2018 to fund 5,000 hours of support for young people living with cancer.
CanTeen helps young people cope with cancer in their family, rebuild their foundations and connect with others with similar issues.
19-year-old Angus Harrison said he knew first-hand how valuable CanTeen’s support was, after his father was diagnosed with cancer while he was just seven years old, and later died.
“We joined CanTeen to find support outside of school and home where we could talk and discuss how we felt about the situation and find coping mechanisms to deal with the issues that came from my Dad’s cancer,” he said.
“When my Dad passed they ensured my brothers and I had support networks in place to deal with our grief and all the other issues that come with losing a parent.
“I’m not a Port Adelaide fan but it is really awesome that the club is getting behind CanTeen because they mostly rely on community funding, and there are so many different things that CanTeen does, like having psychosocial workers to talk to and meeting other young people who are dealing with similar issues who understand what you’re going through.”