Neale Daniher gets a hero’s welcome in Apsley!

The sun shone on blue balloons outside the Border Inn as the crowd lined the streets. They were all there to catch a glimpse of Neale Daniher, the footy legend and fundraising champion for FightMND. Apsley had been chosen as a stop on the tour this year for Daniher’s Drive… A Tour for a Cure, and nobody wanted to miss out.

As the townfolk waited for the 80 car convoy, fundraising buckets were passed around, with people digging into their pockets, wallets and purses for coins. Apsley Primary School’s students and staff waited in the shade under the old general store, craning their heads to peer down the street for a glimpse of the great man. 

There were also students from Edenhope in attendance, standing out due to their light blue tartan contrasting with Apsley’s school uniforms of cobalt. They were from St Malachy’s School, and they had raised $480 to help fight MND. The number was proudly displayed on a flyer, that they would present to Mr Daniher in person. 

Blue skies, blue shirts, blue beanies. The blue shirts belonged to the Daniher’s Drive volunteers who were there to make sure that everything ran smoothly, and the blue beanies belonged to people like Deb Toms, who knew how rough it could be when a family is affected by MND. 

“I lost an uncle three years ago,” she said as her family waited with her by the park.

“My cousins are in the parade today. I lost a grandma as well, in the 1980s.”

Some cars from Daniher’s Drive rolled in early, beeping and waving to the crowd. A brief period of patience for the rest followed, where entertainment was provided by trucks tooting at those on the street gleefully bringing their fists up and down in the universal sign for ‘honk honk’. 

The quiet broke with a tsunami of cars rolling down the street, all bearing the official Daniher’s Drive logos. There were big cars, small cars, long cars and stout cars, all of them carrying the dedicated team that were helping to fundraise for a cure.

Then there was Neale Daniher. As the crowd cheered and waved, he calmly got out the car and started walking towards them, saying a polite ‘hello’ to everyone he met. 

Neale and the rest of the team were on a tight schedule, but he made sure that he had a bit of time for everyone. He shook hands, gave out hugs, posed for photos and listened as people – some of them teary – told him about how much of an inspiration he was. 

“It’s been really fantastic, amazing,” Neale’s wife Jan Daniher said of Apsley’s reception. 

“It’s great to see the kids and the townspeople. It’s great to meet with communities, it’s really important. 

“It's been a great drive so far, it’s been really fun. And that’s what it’s all about, meeting people and fundraising whilst having fun. Trying to find a cure.”

Soon the convoy was on its way, heading off to Raidis Estate in Penola for lunch. Later they would convene in Mount Gambier, with a big fundraising bash at the Barn before heading back over the border. 

The 2018 Daniher’s Drive has already raised $2.2m. This has greatly exceeded expectations, as over four years it has raised $7m total. 

MND (Motor Neuron Disease) affects a person’s limbs and then their throat, robbing them of movement, then speech, then ability to eat, and finally ability to breathe.

Neale Daniher is the vice chairman and co-founder of FightMND. To learn more about Daniher’s Drive please visit https://fightmnd.org.au/events/2018-danihers-drive/

RECOMMENDED: Apsley Alive 2018