By Nick Creely
Officer Junior Football Club youngster Oliver Bailey is inspired by the story of bravery and resilience of Maddie Riewoldt.
An active volunteer for three years of ‘Maddie Riewoldt’s Vision’, an organisation created to fund medical research about Bone Marrow Failure Syndromes (BMFS), Oliver is taking matters into his own hands only days after one of the most important days on the AFL calender.
This Friday 20 July at Etihad Stadium, Richmond and St Kilda will battle it out at Etihad Stadium for ‘Maddie’s Match’, a now annual event aimed at raising funds and providing support to families who are suffering from these syndromes.
Irrespective of where the two sides sit on the AFL ladder, it’s a night for the football world to come together for a greater cause than just the four points on offer.
Maddie – the sister of Saints legend Nick Riewoldt and the cousin of Tigers champion Jack Riewoldt -passed away on 24 February, 2015, after a five year battle with Aplastic Anaemia.
Unable to make it on what is a special night, Oliver – a young man with a mature head on his shoulders – has arranged for his own ‘Maddie’s Match’ to take place on Sunday 22 July, with his Officer Under 9 Black team to take on Fountain Gate at Heatherbrae Reserve at 10am, all with the aim of raising much needed funds.
Oliver said he’s taken a keen interest ever since finding out about Maddie’s story, and felt like he needed to do something to help the cause.
“My dad came up with the idea when he told me what had happened to Maddie,” Oliver said.
“When I heard that she had Bone Marrow Failure, I thought that I should raise money for it, so when somebody else gets it, they can find a cure and they don’t have to suffer like she did,” Oliver said.
“I came up with idea because we couldn’t go to the match this year (between Richmond and St Kilda), because Mum and Dad are working and I’ve got to go to footy training, so I thought we could do a fundraiser where we all wear purple shoelaces.
“My Dad’s boss is also organising the professional banner and the club’s making it for us. I’m looking forward to it.”
So far, the club has raised over $300 with support from other sides in the club and the supporters, and Oliver wants everyone to get on board to make it a special day.
“To donate, anyone can go on the Officer website, and there will be a Maddie’s Match link and they can donate money,” he said.
Oliver, a mad Hawthorn supporter with a soft spot for the Saints, hopes to one day be like heroes Luke Hodge and Nick Riewoldt on the footy field, but for now, will focus all of his energy on helping join the fight in finding a cure for BMFS.
To find out more about Maddie Riewoldt’s Vision, head to www.mrv.org.au, or find them on Facebook.