Surprise visit to NRL Museum for Curtis Landers

Curtis was surprised by his girlfriend Brianna Amato and her parents Kim and Corrado when they took him to the NRL Heroes & Legends Museum, whilst they were visiting Sydney recently from Tuncurry. Northern Sydney Welfare Officers Fred Jackson and Ken Vessey just happened to be volunteering at the Museum on the same day and had the pleasure to meet up with Curtis and the Group.

Curtis was aged 15 years on the 24 May 2014 and whilst playing for his Club Forster Tuncurry Hawks in Port Macquarie he was seriously injured in a routine tackle, breaking his C2 & C3 vertebrae and was rushed to the Royal North Shore Hospital Sydney for emergency surgery. The surgery was successful and after recovering there for a time he was transferred to The Children’s Hospital, Westmead to undergo an extensive rehabilitation program plus attending school lessons. During his recovery time he was lovingly supported by his Mum Maree, Dad Kevin, sister Kayla, brothers Mitchell and Hayden and Brianna plus members of the local and broader rugby league community.

He amazed physiotherapists and doctors by the rate of his recovery and after originally being told that he would be in hospital for 12 months and spend another year or two in a wheelchair as his muscular system strengthened, he astonished everyone by taking his first steps after 5 weeks and was discharged home after 3 months.

We were thrilled and amazed as we watched Curtis walk freely with Brianna around the Museum looking at the marvellous exhibits of Rugby League history. During his visit renowned ex rugby league stars Marion Fenech and Anthony Minichiello popped in to meet Curtis and the group, much to Curtis’ delight and they spoke at length about Curtis’ courage and determination in his road to recovery and his aims for the future.

Curtis a promising hooker and/or halfback realises that his rugby league playing days are over but this has not stopped him from supporting his Forster Tuncurry Hawks team mates from the sideline and as an on field trainer. His aim professionally is to establish a career involved in the administration of rugby league. He was very proud when he told us that he was a die-hard Canterbury-Bulldogs supporter and his favourite player is James Graham, who he has met. Curtis has also met former Newcastle Knight, Alex McKinnon, who was a major source of inspiration for him in his recovery. He stated that his family, Brianna and her family and all of his friends had been amazing throughout his journey and he realises just how lucky he is to have them supporting him.

Curtis, Brianna and her parents thoroughly enjoyed their visit to the Museum and thanked Amber Sierek, Museum Collection Officer for her efforts in arranging the visit, hospitality and time. We presented Curtis with a Men of League polo shirt and cap, wishing him every success in his ongoing recovery and in return he thanked us for the gifts and the support provided to him by the Men of League Foundation.

By Ken Vessey

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