Live-with-hope-Have-aNeale Daniher was a terrific footballer.  A champion for the Essendon Football Club, his career was cut short by injuries, but his persistence and courage was a trademark.

He was a highly motivating coach.  His fiery messages as coach of the Melbourne Football Club gave him the nickname, “The Reverend” and his players went to battle for him every week.

And away from football, Neale is highly regarded for his affable nature, warm smile, fierce loyalty to family and friends and sense of humour.

Tragically, last year he was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease (also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease) an insidious illness for which there is no cure and no treatment.

In the next year or so, he will lose the ability to walk, speak, swallow and then breathe.

This disease will slowly kill him and he knows it, but at 54, Neale is determined to go down fighting.

In his own words in a recent address to his old team Melbourne, he said, “It may get me, but I’m a fighter.  Live with hope.  Have a vision of where you’re going.  My vision is a world without MND.  I’ll get there.  I may be 6 foot under, but we’ll get there.”

What an inspiration!

He knows that he will die soon, but he is using his last months to raise awareness and much needed funding for medical research that he will never benefit from.

He could curl up and feel sorry for himself and who could blame him?  But instead he is using his profile and connections to make a difference in the world.

And even with a death sentence hanging over his head, he has a vision for his life.

Thanks Neale for your passion and resilience in the face of an awful situation and for reminding us that we don’t need to be defined by our circumstances, but by our response.

I’ve seen the impact of this disease on a family.  My kids go to school with 2 children who lost their dad just a few months ago to MND and it has been a terrible time for them.

Sadly, 2 Australians are diagnosed with MND every day (with many more around the world).  If you would like to learn more about this disease and donate to medical research, feel free to check out this site dedicated to freezing MND.

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