THE BIG FREEZE is a highlight of the AFL season, for Melbourne fans and the AFL community alike.
From a crowd full of blue beanies to the famous slide, the Queen’s Birthday event is now into its seventh season, shining a light on Neale Daniher and his fight against motor neurone disease.
For Demons vice-captain Jack Viney, it’s an occasion of great significance and not one that he takes for granted.
“It means a tremendous deal,” Viney said at the launch of the Big Freeze 7 beanies on Monday morning.
“Like everyone can see, Neale’s an inspirational human and he’s got a long history at the football club.
“Neale has come and spoken to us in the past and I know every player has got so much out of it.
“He’s an incredibly selfless person and that rubs off on everyone. I know the players get a lot from him.
“We love being part of this game.”
Since the inaugural clash between Melbourne and Collingwood in 2015, the Big Freeze event has gone from strength to strength.
Daniher and the FightMND team have led the way in raising funds and awareness, committing more than $45 million to research initiatives, to tame what is now deemed ‘The Beast’.
While many could be forgiven for underestimating it, Viney said the Big Freeze was always going to have a lasting impact.
“With Neale leading it, you could’ve seen it getting this big,” he said.
“That’s probably one of the things I admire most about him (Neale) – it wasn’t just a one year or two-year thing.
“This has obviously continued to get more difficult from him as the years [have] go on, but [the Big Freeze has] just got bigger and bigger, and that’s because of Neale, his family and the FightMND team.”
And for Melbourne, it’s more than just a game.
“When we talk about our association to the Big Freeze and FightMND, there’s an instant sense of pride,” Demons CEO Gary Pert told Melbourne Media.
“Our people, from our players, coaches and staff, to our members and fans, all feel proud to be supporting Neale, and to be helping in the fight against ‘The Beast’.
“The Big Freeze is an opportunity for the Melbourne faithful to come together, wear their Big Freeze beanies, walk down Daniher’s Way towards the MCG and really feel part of this mighty fight.”
This year, the Big Freeze will convey the theme of ‘Play On’ – a message that’s close to Daniher heart.
Stemming from his response to his initial diagnosis in 2013, ‘Play On’ is Daniher’s mantra to the FightMND, to continue the fight as he takes a step back from the campaign.
The ‘Play On’ message will feature in the lead up to the event and is embroidered onto the Big Freeze 7 beanies.