AFL CHARITY PARTNERSHIP LANDS A FIRST BY PUTTING NAMES BEHIND THE GAME

Breast Cancer Network Australia

Breast Cancer Network Australia (BNCA) and Melbourne Football Club (MFC) mark their 20th year of partnering at this year’s annual Pink Lady Match. It returns to the MCG Saturday night, June 22, at the Melbourne vs North Melbourne game. This year’s theme for the night game is a play on “More than a Game,” to amplify the work that is done by BCNA to support, connect and be a voice for all Australians impacted by breast cancer.

In a first, Zurich Financial Services (Zurich) has helped strengthen the theme of “More than a Name” by providing their logo space on the front of MFC run out t-shirts to highlight the names of Australians affected by breast cancer – the only time in MFC history a team sponsor has used its logo space in support of charity.

“BCNA are so grateful to MFC for their continued support with the Pink Lady Match,” says BCNA CEO Kirsten Pilatti. “Likewise, to Zurich, who have graciously allowed us to use their logo space on the warmup tops to amplify our cause, and ultimately offer all Australians affected by breast cancer visibility through this iconic match.”

The Demons have a proud history of supporting BCNA and Australians impacted by breast cancer, with the Pink Lady Match a highly anticipated game on their fixture. “To have our players representing those impacted by breast cancer is a great opportunity which allows us to raise critical awareness of BCNA’s important work,” Melbourne CEO Gary Pert said. “The initiative is a fantastic collaboration, and we thank Zurich for their support of our long-standing partnership with BCNA and for allowing this important cause to take centre stage.”

As an insurer, Zurich witnesses the impact first-hand of more than 20,000 new breast cancer diagnosis delivered to Australian women and men each year. “Zurich is proud to use its logo space to recognise those impacted by breast cancer and to raise awareness and funding for Breast Cancer Network Australia,” Linda Griffin, Head of Brand, Marketing & Corporate Affairs at Zurich said. “With the rate of breast cancer diagnosis increasing in Australia, it is more important than ever to support such an important cause.”

BCNA, MFC, and Zurich each went out to their members in search of ambassadors for this year’s Pink Lady Match, who were willing to share their stories and put a face to breast cancer diagnoses in Australia. One such voice is Pink Lady Match ambassador Toni Hilland, best known as the winner of The Amazing Race in 2022. The now 40-year-old was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015 at the age of 31. With no family history of the disease, it came as a surprise.

In 2021 Toni’s cancer returned as metastatic – which means treatable but life-limiting. Toni’s oncologist booked her in for a PET scan. “I lit up like a Christmas tree, the cancer was in my bones and lymph nodes,” says Toni.

She and husband Heath decided to live their life to the full and go on The Amazing Race Australia. The couple became the fast favourite with audiences, going on to win the 2022 series. “We would never have applied for The Amazing Race without my terminal diagnosis, so it has also brought me many wonderful moments and memories,” Toni says. Following their win Toni was taken to hospital, where scans revealed that the cancer had also spread to her brain.

Toni says breast cancer has completely changed her view and philosophy on life moving forward. “I want to seize each and every day and try not to stress about the small stuff, and most of it is small really,” she says. “You should all grasp every day like it could be your last and enjoy life.”

One such opportunity occurs this Saturday night for Toni and Heath to stand in the Guard of Honour alongside other breast cancer survivors with their families and friends in support and in memory of those who have passed away.

Purchase tickets to this year’s Pink Lady Match in the dedicated BCNA Pink Lady Bays, leave a message of support with a virtual place purchase or order a Pink PLAY4BCNA Beanie at https://pinkladymatch.com.au

/Public Release.