• THE NIGHT A 12-YEAR-OLD DUBBO GIRL UPSTAGED SOME OF THE BIGGEST NAMES IN AUSTRALIAN SPORT AT ANZ STADIUM (1)

15 May 2019

A night to remember: 12-year-old Molly Croft joined by her family, Jada Whyman, Kezie Apps and Venues NSW Chairman Christine McLoughlin. Picture: Jason McCawley

Crystelle Cordero  

IT was a night of inspiration, insight, laughs and tears at the 2019 ANZ Stadium Members’ Dinner on Tuesday night.

More than 400 Stadium Members were joined by some of the biggest names in Australian sport, including legendary commentator Ray Warren, master coach Wayne Bennett, star players Sam Burgess, Adam Reynolds, Mitchell Moses, Luke Brooks, Josh Reynolds, Aiden Tolman, Kezie Apps and Jada Whyman, 2000 Sydney Olympian turned FOX Sports commentator Matt Shirvington, former Wallabies star turned FOX Sports commentator Rod Kafer, and Socceroos legend Brett Emerton.

The evening was livened up by the presence of comic duo Rob and Tahir, perhaps best known as curators of the TV show Here Come The Habibs.

Star players Luke Brooks and Mitchell Moses at the ANZ Stadium Members' Dinner. Picture: Jason McCawley.

This year’s Members’ Dinner celebrated 20 Years of Blood, Sweat & Cheers at ANZ Stadium, with video highlights, memorabilia and interviews reflecting on the Stadium’s magnificent major events over the past double-decade.

Most importantly though, the Members’ Dinner raised crucial funds for The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, ANZ Stadium’s major charity partner as part of a wider commitment to its celebrated Charity and Community Program. The Stadium and the fans who pass through the gates have contributed more than $500,000 in proceeds, tickets and hospitality to The Children’s Hospital at Westmead over the past decade.

For all the big-name stars in the room Tuesday night, the most inspirational of them all was Molly Croft, a courageous 12-year-old from Dubbo. Molly attended the dinner along with her mother Ange, sister Maddison and father John – who graciously shared Molly’s story.

“Last year Molly was just your ordinary, sporty, happy-go-lucky 11-year-old girl. Moll followed in the footsteps of her big sister Maddison, playing rep netball, hockey and basketball. She was a Year Six School Leader and lucky enough to have played in the winning School NSW basketball side just a couple of weeks before our world changed.

“Molly was kicking some amazing sporting goals. But she had a little niggle in her calve when she played 18 games of netball over 3 days for State Age Netball. By the end of the tournament her shin was hurting and we knew something wasn’t right. We assumed it was shin splints, so we took her to the local doctor and got an MRI.

“By the end of that week, on Molly’s 12th birthday, we arrived at The Children’s Hospital Westmead and were told that Molly had high grade osteosarcoma – otherwise known as bone cancer – with a 40 to 60 per cent survival rate. She would be starting chemo straight away.”

Ten months on, Molly has survived over 30 weeks of some of the worst chemo any adult or child can go through, as well as surgery to remove the tumour, and a broken leg in the process.

On 9 April 2019, Molly had her last round of chemo, and last Friday, after Molly had her post-chemo scans, she and her family were told that Molly is now clear of cancer.

“Molly has faced this disease with courage, strength, honour and compassion for herself and others. She has been knocked down and she has gotten back up.”

There was not a dry eye in the room after hearing Molly’s story, with MC Tara Rushton brought to tears on stage. John summed up perfectly what last night meant to the Croft family:

“We would like to thank everyone here tonight. The money raised here will help so many kids just like our Molly in the years ahead. Like we did, in our darkest hours, thousands of families turn to The Children’s Hospital at Westmead each year. Money raised tonight ensures the hospital has the latest equipment and can continue their world class research, giving kids like Moll the best chance for the future. We so appreciate your support like you wouldn’t believe.”

Inspiration . . . Molly Croft presented with a NSW Blues jersey by Origin star Kezie Apps. PIcture: Emma Rothfield. 

Tens of thousands of dollars raised last night will support the hospital’s Clinical Trials for children being treated in The Cancer Centre. Each year they provide excellence in medical care and support services to 160 new children with cancer and their families. Since the Centre was established in 1976, there has been more than 4600 children and adolescents treated. Thank you to Venues NSW and all the ANZ Stadium Members and staff who contributed to this year’s fantastic donation.

We’ll leave the final words to Molly, who left the below note on her table last night.