Meet Brett Stewart, NRL and type 1 legend, in Townsville

Brett Stewart


When Shane Close's 10-year-old daughter Ashlee was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes about this time last year, he never imagined it would lead to meeting one of his all-time heroes and becoming a fundraiser to help children with diabetes.


This humble dad of two girls has organised a free meet and greet of National Rugby League legend Brett Stewart for North Queensland families living with type 1 diabetes at 4pm for about an hour on Saturday, June 8.


The event will be held at the Townsville Brothers Leagues Club before the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles play the Cowboys. All donations from the event will be given to Diabetes Queensland.


Brett, who has lived with type 1 since he was 14, is the previous captain and a current coach of the NSW club, as well as a State of Origin legend and national Kangaroo representative.


Shane says Ashlee's bravery in dealing with her condition has driven him to raise funds. The opportunity to enlist Brett evolved from Ashlee's diagnosis and Shane's long-term love of the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles.


"Brett first visited my work site on business," Shane says, who works at a Fitzroy Resources mine in Moranbah. "I was on days off right around the time Ashlee was diagnosed. Someone told Brett about Ashlee and he gave me a call.


"I've been a Sea Eagles fan since I was a kid and I couldn't believe this man I'd admired for so many years would ring to tell me about his time with diabetes.


"We've lined up the meet and greet for June 8 because the Sea Eagles were coming to Townsville to play the Cowboys."


When jokingly asked if this Townsville man was conflicted about what team he would support on the night, Shane replied in earnest: "Manly is my team and has been since I've been a kid. There's no conflict."


Shane is promoting the event through a Townsville type 1 diabetes family support group on Facebook.


"Brett prefers a smaller group so he can speak to people one-on-one. We want to keep the event for the families of people living with type 1 diabetes.


"I think Brett will be an inspiration to kids who worry diabetes will stop them achieving what they'd like to do in life."


In a show of North Queensland generosity, local firm MEM Electrical has donated $5,000, Shane's employer Fitzroy Resources is covering the cost of catering, All Pro (chemical supplier) has given $500 and the Morgans Foundation (stockbrokers) has donated $200.


According to Shane, his daughter Ashlee and her supportive big sister Briana, 12, "are already little champions".


"I just want my girls to be proud of me," Shane said.

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