AFL star is shaving his hair to raise awareness and funds for children living with cancer
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Melbourne Demons star Ben Brown’s locks of hair have become as synonymous with his game as his goal-kicking record throughout his tenure in the AFL.
However, the big forward is set for a new look when he shaves off his famous set of hair at Melbourne’s 2023 family day.
His ‘Chop The Mop’ challenge is looking to raise awareness and funds for children living with cancer, a disease that his family has had a personal fight with.
Brown spoke to SPORTbible Australia about the harrowing journey his young cousin Grace has been through and how it was the catalyst to get behind this cause.
He said: “Grace is 17 years old, she’s the life of the party, she puts a smile on anyone’s face who meets her, she loves to dance. She’s the best kid in the world.
“But she’s had a pretty rough run of life so far. At age six she was diagnosed with Leukemia after getting sick on holiday.
“She spent years in and out of the Royal Children’s Hospital getting treatment and was fortunate enough to be declared cured in remission from cancer a few years down the track.
“But fast forward a few years after that and she actually was diagnosed with Leukemia for a second time.
“We nearly lost her on a couple of occasions. But she’s now in remission again, for a second time - she’s a little fighter.”
“She’s doing well at the moment, but you can only imagine what she and her family have gone through at this point in her relatively short life.”
The charity that Brown is looking to raise awareness for is Challenge - a charity who have personally helped Grace and her family throughout the journey.
It’s an organisation that not only works with the children but their families to provide a holistic approach to dealing with the financial, mental, and emotional struggles that come with such a diagnosis.
Brown said: “One of the main things they provide is a community. They bring people together who are going through the same journey. They’re obviously there for the kids like bringing in entertainment in the hospital, and trying to put a smile on their face.”
Challenge also looks to ensure the families are looked after when faced with the adversity of a loved one.
Brown added: “Challenge were great for Grace’s siblings who were going through long periods of time without their parents around - because they were in and out of hospital helping Grace.”
“They understand what the parents are going through, so they even provide nights out for the parents to get away from the hospital for just a night and reset and have a mental break.”
“They really helped them get through what was a really harrowing experience.”
It’s the personal experience that has led to the forward getting behind the charity and raise awareness of what they’re doing as well as funds to ensure they can continue providing these types of services.
Brown believes that it is the responsibility of the players as well as the entire league to get behind causes that are important to them and enact real change.
He said: “What I would like to see is the AFL becoming a real leader in this area, and stand behind all these issues that are so important.”
Adding: “It’s a really important role for players to play.
“I think we do need to recognise as players that we are role models whether we like it or not.”
You can donate to Challenge and Brown’s cause here.