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Football fans, their club heroes, celebrities and everyday Australians have joined forces with leading law firm Slater and Gordon to raise money for a disability support group through social media.
The Robert Rose Foundation will receive more than $15,000 from Slater and Gordon following the annual clash between Collingwood and the Western Bulldogs for the Robert Rose Cup on Sunday at Etihad Stadium.
More than half the money was raised through a unique social media hashtag campaign. In what is believed to be a fully integrated Australian sporting broadcast first, Slater and Gordon pledged to donate $1 up to $7000 every time #disabilityinclusion was used on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram on game day.
Lawyer Janine Gregory said the firm was overwhelmed by the enormous response to the hashtag campaign.
“We are thrilled to announce we exceeded our fundraising goal. There were 7857 uses of #disabilityinclusion on social media, so we will be donating $7857 to the Robert Rose Foundation.
“So many people got behind this important initiative which recognises the contributions and achievements of people of all abilities,” Ms Gregory said.
Comedian Dave Hughes and Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley were among those who tweeted #disabilityinclusion, resulting in hundreds of retweets.
Slater and Gordon made a separate $5000 donation to the Robert Rose Foundation and raised a further $3110 through the auction of Sherrin footballs at the President’s Club.
Robert Rose Foundation executive officer Natalie Rose-Harwood has thanked Slater and Gordon.
“Their enormous support of the Robert Rose Foundation, their contribution and efforts together with the Western Bulldogs and the Collingwood Football Club, made for a very successful fundraising campaign.
“We appreciate not only the financial contribution, but the exposure and awareness that this has brought to the Robert Rose Foundation and the spinal community," Ms Rose-Harwood said.
Young car crash survivors Haylee and Billy Heard were chosen to run on the field as Collingwood’s mascots. Slater and Gordon represented the pair after they were involved in a car crash in 2011 with their mum Nicol and younger brother Paddy. Paddy sadly passed away last year.
Langwarrin boy Kobe Malloy was the Western’s Bulldog’s mascot. Kobe, 7, has an undiagnosed condition that has left him with very low muscle tone, ataxia and low levels of myelin in his brain, spine and nerves, limiting his mobility.
Robert Rose was the son of Collingwood legend Bob Rose and he himself played for both the Magpies and the Bulldogs before a car crash left him quadriplegic.
In keeping with the theme, the clubs’ banners displayed the message Footy Fans and Slater and Gordon team up to support #DisabilityInclusion. Bulldogs star Luke Dalhaus helped make the banner with Disability Program participants.
Former race driver Lucas Dumbrell, who is quadriplegic following a race crash, was also part of the day, tossing the coin at the start of the match.
Slater and Gordon was the naming rights sponsor of the Robert Rose Cup for the second consecutive year under a three year partnership.