Rousing reception greets cancer walkers

Melanoma survivors Andrew Rust and Jay Allen welcome a donation from Hailey Butler and her niece Clodagh Way, 4, at Saturday’s North Albury and Lavington game at Bunton Park. Picture: JOHN RUSSELL

Melanoma survivors Andrew Rust and Jay Allen welcome a donation from Hailey Butler and her niece Clodagh Way, 4, at Saturday’s North Albury and Lavington game at Bunton Park. Picture: JOHN RUSSELL

SYDNEY melanoma survivors and long-time mates Andrew Rust and Jay Allen strode into the middle of an Australian rules footy match at Bunton Park on Saturday, two-thirds into a 900-kilometre walk from Sydney to Melbourne.

For the passionate rugby league fans, the North Albury and Lavington clash might have taken them slightly out of their comfort zone.

But the positive support from Hoppers and Panthers fans left them impressed.

“We were very impressed and very grateful to be allowed to go in there and finish up such a hard day today from Holbrook and say a few words about our journey and get on the ground and collect donations,” Mr Allen said.

“It really means a lot to Andrew and I and the whole team and it wasn’t too bad seeing a bit of a legend like Jason Akermanis out there.”

The 16-day, 900-kilometre For a Cure walk is to raise community awareness of the risks, prevention and detection of melanoma, and funds for the ongoing research by the Melanoma Institute Australia.

Melanoma is the most common cancer in Australians aged 15 to 39 years and every year 12,500 new cases are diagnosed with a person dying every six hours.

The duo made the most of their Border visit by also attending the Border Bandits and Lady Bandits basketball clashes at Lauren Jackson Sports Centre on Saturday night.

Mr Rust, an administrator at Toyota’s Australian headquarters in Sydney, was diagnosed with stage four melanoma 12 years ago, while Mr Allen, an institute community co-ordinator, discovered five years ago he had stage three of the disease.

He said the institute had provided life-saving support to him during his ongoing treatment.

“The institute has given me 13 years of life that I wouldn’t have otherwise,” he said.

“I had just become a dad to our beautiful daughter when I was diagnosed and the thought of not seeing her grow up was devastating.

“I want to do as much as I can to repay them while also raising awareness of the disease to as many people as I can along the way.”

The duo and their support team arrived in Wangaratta yesterday and will visit Benalla today and Euroa tomorrow en route to their destination, the Melbourne Cricket Ground during the quarter-time break in the Sydney versus Hawthorn match on Friday, via a visit to the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in East Melbourne.

Visit everydayhero. com.au/event/900km foracure2014 to donate.

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