SOUTH Wagga and Tolland will play for far more than just three points when they rally together to help a family close to both club's hearts on Sunday.
Alex McDonald, a former trainer at both clubs, suffered a stroke eight months ago and the clubs will do their bit to help him and his family raise enough money to buy a new car equipped to accommodate their situation.
McDonald, 47, suffered a pontine stroke, commonly known as a pons stroke, which is a type of brain stem stroke.
He has been diagnosed with locked-in syndrome, a rare neurological disorder which paralyses all voluntary muscles except for those used for vertical eye movements and blinking.
His wife, Natasha Coetzee, was forced to quit her job as a disability support coordinator at Kurrajong to become McDonald's full time carer.
The couple has two young children, son Theo, seven and daughter Mimmy, eight. Coetzee hopes their situation raises awareness of the issue and for everyone to be aware of the signs and symptoms.
"It (community help) means more than anyone can possibly think," Coetzee said.
"You think you're prepared and the planning you've done would be sufficient to get through most things, but you don't consider the impact of a long term illness or sickness.
"I would advocate for people to be more aware of that. There's lot of things you don't consider when you believe yourself to be fit and healthy, and almost untouchable to things you expect to be an older person's problem.
"I'm not working because I'll be Alex's full time carer and we needed a different house, because it's not suitable for Alex.
"It's those extra costs you don't envisage. Some things don't get covered by Medicare of health insurance, and you don't have a steady income.
"It's extremely heartening people are prepared to help us fundraise, and help pay for things you don't think about."
Coetzee said the signs of a stroke can be much milder than widely believed.
"We initially thought it was a middle ear infection the day before, and that morning at about 2am he had a stroke," she said.
"When you're having a stroke you're very aware that what it is, we called the ambulance and got him there (hospital) as quickly as he could.
"The kind of stroke Alex had is quite rare, and most of the time people don't survive that kind of stroke. It's usually the kind of stroke a lot of older people have, so age being on his side has helped.
"Because of the severity there's usually very minimal chance of surviving after the surgery. If both of those things work out, the chance of retaining any average to normal function is very minimal."
Locked-in syndrome is not an overly diagnosed syndrome. It means he's 100 per cent cognitively aware, but he can only move his eyes up and down.
"It affects the top of the brain stem which controls all your motor functions, like eating, talking, walking, moving, the whole lot.
"There's so much to be aware of, in particular the symptoms of different strokes. So many times people think it's what it is on ads where you're really uncoordinated, lose brain function and one side of the body is significantly weakened, and it's not really like that at all.
"It's very slight symptoms and you really have to think about the FAST acronym (face drooping, arm weakness, speech difficulty, time to call 000)."
The unbeaten Warriors have struggled in recent years, but a resurgence looks likely after snaring seven points in three games thus far to sit second on the Pascoe Cup table.
"We've recruited a couple of decent players, but we haven't changed our squad much basically since I started," coach Andy Heller said.
"Every year we get better at what we're doing and when you add some more quality personnel into that, the original core gets stronger and stronger. There's a high expectation amongst the group now.
"Off the field there's a lot of importance about raising awareness for Alex's cause and funds for his family. On the pitch we're hunting for that finals spot."
First grade kicks off at 3.20pm on Sunday at Rawlings Park's no.1 ground.
Donations to McDonald's cause will be accepted at the games, or at https://www.mycause.com.au/page/282723/alex-mcdonald-football-charity-round?popup=1
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