By: Daniel Cencic
THE Heathmont Football Club will come together this Saturday to raise funds and awareness for cystic fibrosis, in memory of former player Simon ‘Simmo’ Minson who passed away from the illness in 2014 at just 22 years of age.
Cystic fibrosis is a genetically-inherited disorder affecting the lungs, intestine, liver and pancreas. There is no known cure for this insidious illness, and it is the most common genetically-inherited life-shortening chronic illness affecting young Australians in 2018.
Simon Minson. PICTURE: Supplied.
Statistically, a baby is born with cystic fibrosis every four days in Australia, while one in 25 people are carriers of the gene.
For the past four years, the Jets have rallied around Simon Minson’s family, raising over $140,000 to support people living with cystic fibrosis and to find a cure.
The Jets community was rocked when Simon fell critically ill while holidaying overseas in 2014, losing his life shortly after.
“It all started with a funding page to help raise some money to bring his body home as due to his illness he couldn’t take out travel insurance (and) it was an unbelievable success and just showed how much he had touched so many people in his short life,” club stalwart Jo Hart-Parker said.
Simon’s father, Mark Beatson, has been overwhelmed by the support at the Hangar.
“It really exemplifies how a local footy club can really stand by its own,” Beatson said.
“When Simon passed away, it hit the club hard – they loved him, he was a great part of the club.
“They did a fantastic job in that early year and they’ve gone on to raise significant amounts of money since then.”
Despite the debilitating nature of the disease, it never stopped Simon from giving his all on and off the field for his beloved Jets.
“Both (Simon’s mother) Heather and I have the gene and Simon was unlucky enough to get both genes. Unfortunately, Simon was up the end where it affected him quite a bit,” Beatson said.
“When he was young and playing junior footy, he played over 50 games for Heathmont and managed to take to the park pretty much every Saturday but as he got older and into the senior ranks his health was such that he couldn’t really play.
“He played odd little cameo roles here and there in the 19s and reserves, but he fronted up whenever he was asked.
“He was a fraction of the size of the other guys because it (cystic fibrosis) does affect your growth.
“He put in his all for the 10-15 minutes that he could take to the field and did what he can.
“Always turned up to training and tried to participate in that and just did a lot of other stuff around the club.
“Eventually, your lungs deteriorate.”
Heathmont takes on The Basin this Saturday in a fourth versus fifth clash at H.E Parker Reserve.
As the club’s last home game of the season, the Jets will follow tradition with a Hawaiian theme, along with a raffle and a plethora of prizes as donated by local businesses along with cystic fibrosis merchandise.
Funds raised on the day will go directly to Cystic Fibrosis Community Care Victoria.
If you or someone you know is affected by cystic fibrosis, support is available via cysticfibrosis.org.au.
FULL INTERVIEW with Mark Beatson available from Thursday morning on EFL.org.au through the EFL Insight podcast.