AS WELL as being captain of the Essendon Football Club, Leongatha’s Dyson Heppell is also the Victorian ambassador for Scleroderma.
What is Scleroderma?
Simply asking that question is exactly the point, according to Dyson, who was home at the weekend to promote an upcoming event to raise money for research and awareness of this mystery disease.
But it will be in his capacity as a son and grandson that he will return on Sunday, June 25, to Apex Park in Leongatha at 11am for a run, walk or ride to the Koonwarra Hall, hopefully after a win over the Sydney Swans the previous Friday.
Dyson and his family have a direct connection to the disease, with Dyson’s grandmother passing away from the disease.
“Scleroderma Victoria approached me earlier this year and asked if I would be an Ambassador,” said Dyson.
“My family and I, especially my mum, have been directly affected by Scleroderma and I was more than happy to say yes and help in any way I could.
“Hopefully I can assist them to bring more awareness to a disease that currently has no cure and help with any fundraising they do for on-going medical research, support services and their dedicated Scleroderma nurses.”
And he’s helping in a practical way too, by sourcing one of the main prizes for a lunchtime auction and raffle event at the Koonwarra Hall following the walk, run or ride.
In fact you’re welcome to join the event at the hall for lunch, afternoon tea and the fundraising activities without going on the walk or ride.
And last weekend he took his personally autographed, Bombers’ lawnmower out for a spin on the back lawn at home to give it a try before giving the Rover ride-on a big thumbs up.
The day is organised by three local people touched by scleroderma; Rae Stallard of Foster, who is currently living with the illness, Ann-Maree Heppell, who lost her mum to the illness and Corrie Hemming who lost her husband to scleroderma.
The cause of scleroderma is not known but it is hoped that research into the cause of scleroderma might lead to new advances in treatment and intervention.
Some of the funds raised at events like the Leongatha-Koonwarra event on Sunday, June 25, in the run up to World Scleroderma Day which is on June 29, go towards blood trials, data collection and financing PhD and scientific research into the cause and treatment of the disease.
The condition is not hereditary, nor is it contagious but it is relatively rare with something more than 5000 people with scleroderma in Australia.
So why not join Dyson his family along with Rae Stallard and Corrie Hemming and their supporters on Sunday, June 25 – see you there!

See more on page 20 in this weeks edition of the South Gippsland Sentinel-Times
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