Neale Daniher is facing his own mortality with a laugh and immense courage.
Daniher hammed it up with his former coach Kevin Sheedy after accepting a $5000 donation from Essendon’s AFL players on Thursday for motor neurone disease research.
The former Essendon captain and Melbourne coach has the terminal illness, which has no current cure.
On Monday, the Melbourne-Collingwood match at the MCG will feature the second Freeze MND fund raiser, where Sheedy will be among 10 celebrities who will slide into a pool of icy water.
“His leadership in this predicament, and caring about others, I think that’s the beauty of this person,” Sheedy said.
“He’s just a beautiful person with a beautiful family.”
Daniher seized on the opportunity for a bit of payback on his old coach, even if his speech is now slurred.
“It’s about time you said something nice about me,” Daniher said drily.
“As we know, there are two types of Sheedys – there’s the dirty, rotten Sheedy and now there’s nice Kev.
“It’s good to see nice Kev come out – but he’ll be filthy when he comes out of that ice.”
Daniher also noted Sheedy’s old chairman of selectors Brian Donohue – known at Essendon as The Iceman because he has sold packed ice – will contribute.
“I will just go down because of Neale,” Sheedy said.
“It’s not my normal habit, so slide down a ramp and into some ice.
“Neale just told me that Brian Donohue, who’s The Iceman out this way, he’s going to make a special cold batch of ice for us.”
Daniher said progress is being made in MND research, with scientists discovering a compound that can treat the disease in mice.
“I like mice, but I want to save men and women,” Daniher said.
Despite the cruelty of his condition, Daniher’s outlook is rock-solid.
“I’m really optimistic – every day I wake up and (think) ‘maybe they’ll announce something today’,” he said.
“So we’re all about hope.
“But we know there’s a lot of work to be done and without people supporting our cause it won’t get done.
“It may not come in my time, but we know every day we’re getting closer.”