MND Superchallenge ends in final hurrah

February 2, 2024 BY

Winners are grinners: Josh, Jacob and David Cartwright from Kyabram took out the final MND Superchallenge at Heathcote on Australia Day. Photos: BARBARA SUNGAILA

SEVENTY-FIVE bowlers rolled up on Australia Day for the Never Give Up Group’s ninth and final MND Superchallenge at Heathcote Bowling Club.

They came from clubs across the state and dug deep to buy raffle tickets and bid on auction items, as well as playing in a keenly contested bowls tournament.

MND Victoria president David Lamperd said the superchallenge was one of the longest running events in their calendar and he described the Never Give Up Group’s fundraising total, which is expected to reach almost $120,000, as “an incredible effort.”

“It’s been a special event to recognise and celebrate Australia Day, but also to remember Dennis Gleeson who was a member at Heathcote Bowling Club,” he said.

After Mr Gleeson was diagnosed with MND in late 2015, a group of his mates gathered in a local pub on New Year’s Eve to discuss how they could support both him and others affected by the disease.

Twenty-six days later, bowlers from across the region gathered at Heathcote for an inaugural fundraiser, a 24-hour marathon, which subsequently evolved into an annual one-day tournament.

Never Give Up Group president Brian Taylor said emotions were charged at this year’s superchallenge.

“It’s been a terrific ride and we’ve done a good job for a good cause,” he said.

Mr Taylor said the overall support they had received had been fantastic, but one incident stood out for him.

“I think the biggest highlight was during the 24-hour marathon in 2016,” he said. “Three guys came from Rochester between two and three o’clock in the morning and played for an hour or so in uniform.”

World Bowls CEO Neil Dalrymple has now hit the Heathcote greens several times.

“I think it’s a wonderful day,” he said. “It’s a great club doing great things for the community and obviously raising funds for MND is very important.

“A former Bowls Australia president died from MND last year so it’s close to my heart.

“I think that now everyone knows someone who has died or who has got MND.”

Bowlers of every vintage have lent their support to the superchallenge over time.

In the 2016 marathon, Heathcote’s Ellis Knight bowled his age with an impressive 80 ends over 24-hours and this year, at 88, he teamed up with Hal Dihm, 84, John Hutson, 85, and Denis Kilner, 82.

“The whole team is over 80,” he said, “But Denis is the boy.”

Mr Knight said sportsmanship and fellowship were key elements of what was an important day.

At the other end of the range, 2024’s youngest competitor was 13-year-old Jacob Cartwright who played alongside his brother Josh, 17, and father David.

These Kyabram Bowling Club stalwarts were the eventual winners, taking out the final MND Superchallenge trophy.

The over 80s team comprised Hal Dihm 84, Ellis Knight 88, John Hutson 85 and Denis Kilner 82.

MND Superchallenge raffle prize winners

1st Total Tools Garden Power Package, Chris Toifl, Heathcote

2nd Pepperpot Kitchen Aid Package, Pauline Ezard, Heathcote

3rd Mitre 10 Voucher, Dinah Finn, Heathcot

4th IGA/Easytow Trailer Voucher, Philip O’Donnell, Botanic Ridge

5th All Seasons Package, Margre Joyce, Heathcote

6th McIvor Meats/Gleeson Family Voucher, Max, Heathcote

7th IGA/Easytow voucher, Margaret Dunn, Heathcote