Herald Sun – December 2016

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What an amazing honour to be apart of 7 amazing Victorians who have given up so much of themselves to better serve humanity.  It was a wonderful and Inspirational day to be among the Pride of Australia winners so hear their stories in the video below.

Herald Sun Article 12th December

Herald Sun Article 24th December

Pride of Australia Medals awarded to nine incredible Victorians in moving ceremony

Aaron Langmaid, Herald SunDecember 12, 2016 8:44pm

FROM the Top End to the bustling streets of Melbourne, nine Victorians have been recognised for their contribution to communities.

The latest recipients of the Pride of Australia Medal have been presented their award in a moving ceremony before family and friends.

Among them, a man who quit smoking and lost weight so he could give a kidney to a stranger.

Victorian Pride of Australia award winners (L-R from back row) CFA officer Paul Bannan, Michael Gallus, Jude Donahoo, Neale Daniher, Jonathan Tarascio, Kevin Costa (standing for winner Simon Costa, (L-R front) brother and sister Hayden and Stephanie Rujak, Beau Vernon and Chairman Herald and Weekly Times Penny Fowler. Picture: David Caird
Victorian Pride of Australia award winners (L-R from back row) CFA officer Paul Bannan, Michael Gallus, Jude Donahoo, Neale Daniher, Jonathan Tarascio, Kevin Costa (standing for winner Simon Costa, (L-R front) brother and sister Hayden and Stephanie Rujak, Beau Vernon and Chairman Herald and Weekly Times Penny Fowler. Picture: David Caird

And a grandmother who raised more than $1 million for medical research.

“As I discovered the winners’ stories and journeys I was inspired,’’ Ms Fowler said. “Each person here has demonstrated the quintessential ‘have a go’ attitude which helps build our national identity.

“You now join an amazing group of people, who over the past dozen years have helped reinforce the very fabric of our society through leadership.’’

Incredible human: Neale Daniher. Picture: David Caird
Incredible human: Neale Daniher. Picture: David Caird

Former Essendon player and Melbourne coach NEALE DANIHER got the nod for his work raising awareness and funds for Motor Neurone Disease.

“Life isn’t always fair,’’ Daniher said. “But it gives us the challenge to bring hope to others.’’

Moved by the plight of Melbourne’s homeless HAYDEN RUJAK, 9, and his sister STEPHANIE, 7, were recognised for tirelessly handing out care packs to those living rough through “Hayden’s Helping Hands’’.

Medal winners brother and sister Hayden and Stephanie Rujak. Picture: David Caird
Medal winners brother and sister Hayden and Stephanie Rujak. Picture: David Caird

“Our dream is that one day there will be no homeless and no people sleeping rough in Melbourne,’’ Hayden said.

A medal was also presented to founding director of the sporting foundation Footys4all,

Inspiring award winner Michael Gallus delivered footballs to those in need. Picture: David Caird
Inspiring award winner Michael Gallus delivered footballs to those in need. Picture: David Caird

MICHAEL GALLUS who has helped deliver more than 15,000 footballs to children in detention, those with special needs and indigenous kids in remote communities.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re five or 95 you can get out and make change in the world,’’ Mr Gallus said.

Kevin Costa, standing in for nephew and medal winner Simon Costa. Picture: David Caird
Kevin Costa, standing in for nephew and medal winner Simon Costa. Picture: David Caird

SIMON COSTA received the award for his efforts overseas.

Aged 37 and at the top of his game as managing director of one of Australia’s largest private organisations, Mr Costa gave it all up to volunteer for the United Nations.

In 2013, he moved permanently to Africa to work on a project aimed at reducing post-harvest food losses and ultimately aid food production to save lives.

His uncle, Kevin Costa accepted the medal on his behalf.

“Simon acknowledged how much people in other countries suffer,’’ Mr Costa said.

“He was determined to do something for people who aren’t as blessed as we are in Australia.’’

Jonathan Tarascio has done good work into Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Picture: David Caird
Jonathan Tarascio has done good work into Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Picture: David Caird

Another worthy winner, JONATHON TARASCIO has battled Hodgkin’s lymphoma for the last four years but has used his fight to establish the Green Button Foundation to support those suffering from the disease and other blood cancers.

He is determined to promote a culturally diverse bone marrow bone registry.

“It’s something that could save someone elses life,’’ Mr Tarascio said.

Jude Donahoo has helped fundraise and research neuroblastoma, a childhood cancer. Picture: David Caird
Jude Donahoo has helped fundraise and research neuroblastoma, a childhood cancer. Picture: David Caird

Jude Donahoo earned her medal after establishing the You Are My Sunshine foundation to raise funds for research for neuroblastoma — the childhood cancer that claimed the life of her granddaughter, Khalilla.

The charity has raised more than $1m in seven years, becoming an official charity partner with The Australian Moto GP.

“I just see a little girl looking down at me wherever she might be … and her light continues to shine through this foundation,’’ Ms Donahoo said.

Quadriplegic Beau Vernon accepts his award for becoming an inspiration after his accident. Picture: David Caird
Quadriplegic Beau Vernon accepts his award for becoming an inspiration after his accident. Picture: David Caird
Beau proudly shows off his award. Picture: David Caird
Beau proudly shows off his award. Picture: David Caird

Leongatha Football Club coach BEAU VERNON, who became a quadriplegic after an accident in 2012, received the award for his determined fight back to become a club leader, mentor and motivational speaker.

“There are lot of people worse off than me,’’ Mr Vernon said. “I just wanted to live the best life I could.’’

CFA officer Paul Bannan gave up his kidney. Picture: David Caird
CFA officer Paul Bannan gave up his kidney. Picture: David Caird

PAUL BANNAN was acknowledged for his generosity after he gave one of his kidneys to a stranger.

“Do what you can, when you can, if you can,’’ Mr Bannan said.

“It’s as simply as that.’’

IN SUMMARY: PRIDE OF AUSTRALIA MEDAL RECIPIENTS

NEALE DANIHER for raising awareness and funding for Motor Neurone Disease.

HAYDEN and STEPHANIE RUJAK for handing out care packs to Melbourne homeless.

MICHAEL GALLUS for delivering more than 15,000 footballs to children in need.

SIMON COSTA for his work with the United Nations.

JONATHON TARASCIO for support, awareness and research into Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

JUDE DONAHOO for fundraising and research into neuroblastoma, a childhood cancer.

BEAU VERNON for his work as coach, mentor and motivational speaker after becoming a quadriplegic.

PAUL BANNAN for giving his kidney to a stranger.

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