what a hero looks like (his name is Jimmy Stynes)

image from the Herald SunToday I am writing about a non-art thing.

Today, we lost a true hero. Today we lost Jim Stynes to cancer.

Jim was an Irishman who came to Australia in the mid-80s to play Australian Rules football. His background was in Gaelic football and he hadn't played our game before.

By the time his career ended, he had won the Brownlow Medal (for overseas readers equivilent to the MVP but it is for the fairest AND best player of the year - not easy to win), four club best and fairest awards, broke the record for consecutive games played, twice All Australian and respected by all who played with and against him.

In 1994, he also created the REACH FOUNDATION which is an incredible organisation. From their website:

Reach believes that every young person should have the support and self-belief they need to fulfil their potential and dare to dream.

Our national school and community-based programs are run for young people and designed to promote their mental health and wellbeing. All our programs are run by the young Reach Crew, so there’s no preaching – just young people inspiring young people to believe that, no matter what their circumstances, they can achieve.

Reach creates safe and supportive spaces where teenagers can share stories and experiences honestly. A place where they can increase their self-belief, discover who they are and recognise that they’re not alone.

Jim led by example. He was an extraordinary human being. And when he was diagnosed with cancer almost three years ago, he was determined to beat the odds. He fought. He battled. He LIVED. He saved the football club he loved and played for, he strengthened Reach, he gave a public and honest face to cancer and he supported the work of others right up til last Friday

As a four time cancer survivor who has been to hell, seen the decor and chosen not to stay, I know what cancer does. Physically. Emotionally. I know what bravery and courage looks like. Many say they are qualities I posess.

Well, if I possess those qualities, then Jim Stynes is the "survivor's survivor", the man that I can look to and be astounded, inspired and strengthened by. The person who, in my darkest hours, I looked to and remembered, who I aspired to be like. To have his courage. His dignity. His absolute GUTS under fire.

Jim, you will be missed by all who knew you and many (like me) who admired you from afar. Your fight will not be in vain - we WILL beat this disease. 

Rest in Peace, comrade.