Struggling bush footy family have been gifted a customised van from the Men of League Foundation

Article and image courtesy of The Daily Telegraph.

DEAN RITCHIE, The Daily Telegraph
October 7, 2016

TOO often we hear the negatives about NRL players.

Well not today.

This is the uplifting story about a struggling bush footy family who turned to rugby league in their time of need. And rugby league, as always, was there waiting.

Jamieson Leeson is a 13-year-old from Dunedoo who was born with spinal muscular atrophy — a childhood version of motor neurone disease. She is completely wheelchair bound.

But it hasn’t stopped Jamieson’s from loving rugby league. Jamieson’s mother, Amanda, drives thousands of kilometres each season to watch her 19-year-old son, Codi, play for Dubbo CYMS.

Some matches are a 10-hour round-trip. In her spare time, Amanda, works in the tuck shop at country footy grounds.

And wherever Codi plays, Jamieson is there to watch. Every single minute. They are a true-blue bush footy family.

Amanda though has sustained disc problems in her back by constantly transferring Jamieson into the family car.

This is where the wonderful Men of League charity has stepped in. With the help of Chatswood Toyota, Men of League donated a customised van to the Leeson family with a wheelchair lift for Jamieson.

Jamieson, a fanatic Manly fan whose favourite player is Brenton Lawrence, can now continue to watch Codi play. The Daily Telegraph was there when Men of League chief executive Peter Collins handed an emotional Amanda the van’s keys.

“This will enable the family to continue being apart of the rugby league community,” said Collins. “This is what the foundation was set up for by Ron Coote all those years ago, to work with our volunteer committees where we can help the men, women and children associated with the rugby league community who find themselves in financial difficulties and who need our help because they nowhere else to go.

“In this instance, we were able to get a recommendation from our volunteer committee in Dunedoo — headed up by Martin Cook. Through their fundraising activities locally, and with our assistance through donations and working with leagues club grants, we are delighted to provide this vehicle and the wheelchair lift for the family.”

Jamieson said: “My family is mad about rugby league. It’s quite hard with the car that we have. The new van will help me a lot and it will be good for mum’s back too.”

Amanda was deeply indebted to Men of League for supporting Jamieson and Codi.

“Codi played for a Dubbo team so it was two hours to training twice a week,” Amanda said. “And then some games were up to five hours one-way. Jamieson comes along to every game. Without fail. You have no idea what this means to us. This is something I couldn’t afford as a single parent. This gives Jamieson her independence, to be able to drive in and out on the van without having to rely on me.

“Jamieson does everything that every normal child does. We try and find a way around anything and do it for her the best we can. She loves rugby league and is a big Manly supporter. She watches every game on TV every weekend.”

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