‘Dressed as a superhero, for a superhero’: See who braved the slide for Neale Daniher at Big Freeze 8

After a three-year COVID-induced hiatus, the Big Freeze was back and bigger than ever. Ten Australian sports stars, celebrities and media personalities slid into icy depths at the MCG on Monday, supporting the fight against motor neuron disease (MND).

, helped push some of the nation’s favourites down a large slide in the middle of the ’G as part of the FightMND fundraising initiative.

Daniher lost his voice ahead of the eighth Big Freeze event, but nothing would stop him from plunging ten lucky – and very chilly – well-known names into the water at what has become a highly respected and anticipated charitable turned sporting event.

He may not be able to talk, but we know that there’s an army of people that are going to be the voice of this fight on his behalf, Daniher’s daughter Bec said in the lead-up to the event.

After a moving musical performance by guitarist Chris Cheney, Seven Sports broadcaster Hamish McLachlan led the troops in the day’s fight against the beastly disease, welcoming each slider as they braced themselves for the plunge.

First to dip their toes into the icy blues was Eddie Betts. No stranger to the ’G, the former AFL star came dressed as Marvel’s all-powerful Black Panther – dressed as a superhero, for a superhero, McLachlan said.

Hoping to warm up the water, dressed up as Katniss Everdeen – the girl on fire from The Hunger Games. Australia’s Olympic sweetheart and star of the snowy slopes, Anthony said the Big Freeze tub qualified as the coldest she had so far encountered.

Comedian and podcaster Hamish Blake wowed the audience next by wearing a Frozen-inspired silky blue dress and blonde wig as he went hurtling down the slide.

A former mentee of Neale Daniher’s, Blake wiped the water from his brow as he expressed how stoked he was to be at the incredible event and supporting such a respectable cause.

Rounding off the slide celebrations was , dressed in what she called a 12-year-old’s Lion King Rafiki costume.

Lifting a plush mini Simba into the air just as was done in the film, Barty confidently took the icy temperatures in her stride. Composed and always smiling, Barty barely let out a shiver as she marvelled at the success of the day.

Neale is an incredible man, she said. [We] make people smile, laugh. We do our part to one day find a solution.

Other brave sliders included , champion Demon David Neitz, Seven News’ Rebecca Maddern, former Australian national cricket coach Justin Langer, commentator and sports broadcaster Andy Maher, and star of stage and screen, Rhonda Burchmore.

The entire lineup’s experience was perfectly summed up by Burchmore as she climbed out of the freezing ice bath, shivering but fulfilled in her Poison Ivy costume and blazing red wig: I’m just freezing all my bits off here!

Just as Bec Daniher had promised, it was a spectacular show, including funny costumes, theatre, music and a sea of blue beanies in honour of her father and everyone who has been impacted by MND.

Two people die from the disease and two more are diagnosed every day, according to a spokesperson from FightMND. The average life expectancy of a person living with MND is only 27 months.

The Victorian state government announced it would donate $250,000 on Monday to help FightMND reach its target of raising $2 million by half-time of the Melbourne v Collingwood clash. This built on the $6 million previously donated by the government to the Big Freeze and FightMND since 2014.

I thank the Victorian government for their ongoing support and significant contribution to the fight against MND, said Daniher.

These funds will be invested in urgent MND research to find better treatments and a cure for this beast of a disease.

Since 2014, the charity has raised $63 million for MND cure and care initiatives. No care has been found, but Daniher said the annual Big Freeze at the Queen’s Birthday blockbuster plays a vital role in raising awareness and funds.

We’re going well, and I think that shows the generosity of the Australian community, she said.

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