CARLTON’S four-time Premiership player and club Best and Fairest Bruce Doull – one of the few universally admired footballers in League history and without question its most shy – has generously agreed to break his silence in support of an important cause led by fellow Norm Smith Medallist David Rhys-Jones.
Doull, a member of Carlton’s and the AFL’s Teams of the Century, is one of 15 former sportsmen who have agreed to be interviewed by the 182-game former South Melbourne/Sydney and Carlton footballer, as part of an annual fundraiser for the Prader-Willi Syndrome Association of Victoria of which Rhys-Jones is an Ambassador.
Joining Doull in fielding Rhys-Jones’ questions as part of the #15for15 Challenge are fellow former Carlton players Matthew Allan, Jim Buckley, Milham Hanna and Matthew Kreuzer; on-field adversaries Peter Daicos, Mick McGuane, Tony Shaw and Dane Swan (Collingwood), Terry Daniher (Essendon) and Scott West (Footscray/Western Bulldogs); and the one-time Australian Super Featherweight boxing champion Barry Michael.
The two-minute video-taped Doull interview has been availed to the Club exclusively. In it, the 356-game great reflects on his great rivalry with Richmond’s Royce Hart (“I didn’t sleep well the night before I played on Royce”) and he offers his thoughts of today’s Carlton and where it is heading under Michael Voss’ watch.
For Rhys-Jones, the coup of securing an interview with Doull was part of a bigger picture.
“This is about getting more people on board and creating an awareness for PWS,” Rhys-Jones said of his commitment to the challenge.
“I’m hoping to raise a few bob for the Prader-Willi Syndrome Association of Victoria because there’s a bit of research happening.”
The #15for15 Challenge takes its name from the actual Prader-Willi Syndrome condition in which several genes on the 15th chromosome are deleted or unexpressed - leading to individuals developing insatiable appetites, difficult behaviour traits and developmental problems.
This rare and complex non-inherited genetic spectrum disorder reduces the average life expectancy for someone with the condition to just 37 years.
Rhys-Jones’ interest in promoting awareness of PWS and raising funds for the cause is deeply personal, as his son Cooper, now 18, lives with the condition. Not surprisingly, much of David and his wife Cheri’s days are taken as Cooper’s carers.
“Cooper was given growth hormone because he wasn’t able to produce it himself. He’s on medication for anxiety, and he’s ticking along.
“He basically needs 24-hour supervision and there are carers to assist. He experiences a lot of anxiety and as a result Cheri and I probably don’t go out as much as you don’t know when or where Cooper could have a melt-down.”
According to Rhys-Jones, around one in 15,000 individuals live with PWS – amongst them the daughter of the dual North Premiership defender Frank Gumbleton, who according to Rhys-Jones “is around 40 years old now and doing quite well”.
Though treatment for PWS has become more accessible and less expensive there is still much to be done, according to Rhys-Jones.
“It would be terrific if anyone was able to throw a few shekels into help,” he said. “The PWA of Victoria does a great job to support the families dealing with this. It’s a real little community and I’m part of it.”
David Rhys-Jones launches his 15-day challenge on his Facebook page today (17 May). Carlton members and supporters who might like to support Rhys-Jones’s cause by way of donation are encouraged to access this link.