NINE inspiring Victorians were honoured with Pride of Australia medals last Monday and incredibly, two of the recipients hailed from Phillip Island.
Jude Donahoo was recognised for her dedication in raising over $1 million towards research for childhood cancer, neuroblastoma, and Beau Vernon was honoured for his work as Leongatha Football Club coach, mentor and motivational speaker since becoming a quadriplegic in 2012.
The award is an initiative by NewsCorp which celebrates and acknowledges the remarkable contribution and achievements of members of the Australian community.
The pair were presented with their medals at the Herald Weekly Times tower in Melbourne on Monday, alongside fellow inspirational Victorians including Neale Daniher, who was recognised for his dedicated work raising awareness and funds for Motor Neurone Disease.
Jude founded the You Are My Sunshine (YAMS) Foundation in 2009 after the passing of her granddaughter Kahlilla from neuroblastoma cancer.
Before the foundation, there was no dedicated funding for neuroblastoma research in Australia, and YAMS aims to fund research to find a cure.
Jude was nominated by the Australian Grand Prix Corporation and said it was an honour to receive the medal.
“I don’t do it for the accolades, I do it to try to find a cure for those sick kids, but it’s nice to be recognised for the hard work we’ve done and the volunteers have done – I couldn’t do it alone,” she said.
“My little granddaughter would be smiling down on me wherever she is, knowing that Nan’s keeping her promise.
“It was a lovely surprise to get in there and have two Pride of Australia medal winners from Phillip Island. It was pretty special to have Beau there too.”
Beau’s life changed forever after a football accident left him a quadriplegic, but his positive attitude towards life has inspired many.
“It was a very big honour to win it, but it doesn’t really sit comfortably with me,” Beau said.
“I don’t really feel like I deserve it, I’m just living life and other people are doing amazing things.”
Beau has used his journey to influence others since becoming a motivational speaker and is enjoying developing his public speaking.
“I enjoy the interaction and meeting new people,” he said.
“When people come up to you afterwards and say how much it meant to them and how it’s influenced their life and their perspective of things, I enjoy that.”
Amongst the other medal recipients were brother and sister Hayden and Stephanie Rujak, who hand out care packs to the homeless through ‘Hayden’s Helping Hands’, and the founding director of foundation ‘Footys4all’, Michael Gallus, which supplies sporting balls to disadvantaged, underprivileged and socially displaced children across the world.
United Nations volunteer Simon Costa, who works on a project to reduce post-harvest food losses and aid food production to save lives in Africa, Hodgkin’s lymphoma sufferer Jonathon Tarascio, who founded the Green Button Foundation to support those suffering from the disease and other blood cancers, and Paul Bannan, who donated his kidney to a stranger, were also honoured on the day.
Inspiring Jude and Beau honoured