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Aussie athletes band together to help bushfire victims

Author imageAOC06 Jan 2020
NSW Bushfires 2019 - Getty Images

As bushfires have ravaged the country with growing intensity, lives, homes and land have been lost on a catastrophic scale.

Although the fires continue to burn, seeing the Australian community come together to support those affected by the fires, has been inspiring, with many Aussie athletes pledging to do whatever they can to help.

Dual Winter Olympian Ben Mates is one of the many heroic firefighters putting his life on the line and having ACL surgery only 14 weeks ago hasn't stopped the snowboarder battling for the lives and homes of others.

Mates has been fighting fires across Durras, Batemans Bay and Currowan, sharing stories and photos of the damage along with the reality of the seemingly never-ending shifts to fight these relentless blazes.

Beijing 2008's Janelle Shepherd also spent her Christmas and New Year keeping her community safe. She paid tribute to "her brothers" fallen firefighters Geoff Keaten and Andrew O'Dwyer and reminded her friends and family to make each day count.

Olympic swimming siblings Emma and Dave McKeon had to flee their family's property in Lake Conjola, before the fires overran the town.

Once safe, Emma took to Instagram with an emotional message, thanking the fire service and encouraging the Australian community to support those firefighters and volunteers who are risking their lives daily.


It is so hard to truly understand the level of devastation and suffering happening right now across the country from these fires. I am so grateful to the relentless work and sacrifice from the firies, most of who are volunteers, saving thousands of people’s homes and lives, and still continuing. From being down at Lake Conjola over the last week, you can feel the way the community has come together to support eachother. Everyone across Australia can come together as a country and support from afar aswell by donating to those who have sadly lost their homes and everything in them, and to the fire fighters and volunteers who are risking their lives daily. We can often feel helpless from far away but we can do the best we can by donating to those who have lost so much. Sadly our home town in Lake Conjola was hit very badly, and we were extremely lucky to be safe where we were. But our heart goes to the victims who lost so much, and to the place many call home. To help the victims from Lake Conjola’s recent bush fires of New Years follow the link in my bio 🔗 Some other suggestions are: *Australian Red Cross Disaster Recovery and Relief (just google it) You can also support our brave volunteer fire fighters: *NSW RFS Donations Page Those still in the areas, please be safe, we are thinking of you, and to those fighting these devastating fires, THANKYOU, SO SO MUCH🙏🏽

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This tragedy has highlighted the incredible generosity and community spirit across the country.

Below are just some of the ways Australia's sporting community have banded together to assist those in need.

Nick Kyrgios was one of the first to throw his support behind those affected by the fires, pledging $200 per ace he serves across all summer events.

Fellow Aussie tennis stars Alex de Minaur, Sam Stosur, John Millman, Priscilla Hon, John Peers and Storm Sanders also made their own pledges, while Ash Barty committed to donating her entire Brisbane International prize money - $360,000 if the top-seed was to take out the competition.

Tennis Australia implemented the Australian Open Rally for Relief, pledging to deliver $100 to the Australian Red Cross bushfire disaster relief for every ace served across the competition and as of Monday morning, 559 aces had been served, equalling $55,900 for the Australian Red Cross.

Snowboard World Champion,  Scotty James set up a Go Fund Me campaign, with all proceeds going towards the World Wide Fund (WWF) for Nature Australia, so far raising almost $15,000. You can donate HERE.


Please help those affected. Link in bio. 🇦🇺💔 #australiaburns

A post shared by Scotty James (@scottyjames31) on

Football Federation Australia dedicated two rounds of the A-League and W-League to raising funds for the cause, while several of the Socceroos and Matildas squads made their own donations and pledges.

The Aussie 7’s teams pledged $500 for every try scored at the Sydney 7’s, which is due to be played over the weekend of February 1-2 in Sydney, while Softball NSW used their National Championships as a fundraiser.

Softballers Simone Wearne and Deidre Anderson pledged $10 for every home run hit and due to generous donations, they were able to increase this to $150 per home run.

Aussie athletes like Andrew Hoy, Jess Fox, Mariafe Artacho del Solar and Saya Sakakibara also donated special items and auctioned memorabilia to fund various charities.

Six-time equestrian Olympian, Andrew Hoy donated his London 2012 horse Rutherglen’s official Olympic blanket along with a signed photo and personal note, to be auctioned by Blaze Aid. As of Monday morning, the highest bid was $2,500, you can bid HERE

Paddler, Jessica Fox raised over $3,000 for the Rural Fire Service (RFS). She created handmade Christmas cards, selling them online and donating the funds to the RFS. 

Mariafe Artacho del Solar also donated items including her Rio 2016, Commonwealth Games and World Cup kit with all proceeds going to the Australian Cross and WIRES Wildlife Rescue. You can bid HERE

Dual Olympic runner David McNeill pledged to donate $1 for every km he ran, with several Athletics Australia teammates such as Jess Trengove, Joseph Deng and Sinead Diver committing to do the same. 

Basketballers Ben Simmons and Patty Mills penned impassioned pleas to fellow NBA teammates, encouraging them to join in helping their country in any way possible.

While the entirety of Australia feels the same despair, the bravery and generosity that has come out of these bushfires has been a true reflection of Aussie spirit, mateship and resilience.

In addition to those mentioned above, you can help by clicking to donate to one of the charities listed below.

NSW Rural Fire Service
Country Fire Authority Victoria

Australian RedCross Disaster Recovery Relief
WIRES Wildlife Emegency Fund
The Salvation Army Disaster Appeal
Port Macquarie Koala Hospital
St Vincent De Paul Bushfire Appeal

Liana Buratti