By Justin Flynn
A large group of local junior footballers and family members were lucky enough to step foot onto the hallowed turf of the Sydney Cricket Ground.
A total of 140 players and parents from Ocean Grove Collendina Cobras and Glebe Greyhounds got to do a lap of the SCG and then form a guard of honour for the Geelong Cats AFL players as they entered the playing field to take on the Sydney Swans.
The excursion was for local charity, River’s Gift, which is the largest source of funding for sudden infant death syndrome research in Australia.
Glebe Greyhouds are based in the inner Sydney suburb of Glebe and came down to Ocean Grove last year for a match against the Cobras.
The Cobras returned the favour this year with two games against the Greyhounds.
The Greyhounds formed a guard of honour for the Swans players, while the Cobras enjoyed getting high-gives from the Cats players as they entered the SCG.
River’s Gift general manager Karl Waddell says it will be “massive” to have the Greyhounds and Cobras bring in the Swans’ home game.
“To have presence on the AFL stage is really big for us,” Waddell said.
“We’ve built a charity from scratch and six and a half years on we’re going to have presence on a national football stage, which is just massive for us. It’s great coverage and to have the young kids fundraising on our behalf and honouring our little man and our charity is really special.
“The fundraising is the bread and butter. It’s what keeps us driving our initiatives. We’ve raised more than a million dollars in six and a half years and that’s not with any government funding. It’s all community-based charity-giving.”
River’s Gift was founded in 2011 after the passing of the son of Waddell and his wife Alex.
River Jak Adam was born in July of 2011 and passed away in his cot in November later that year.
His parents established River’s Gift off their own bat and have since held a number of marquee fundraising events, invested in SIDS research and raised a wealth of awareness.