How a brain cancer survivor inspired Dan Murphy’s stores to raise $65,000 to research - in one month

Friday 30th July - Brain cancer survivor Elias Forbes rallied his store team at Dan Murphy’s Woolloongabba to host barbecues for customers during the month of June in an effort to raise funds for the Mark Hughes Foundation.

However, his story and passion inspired another 40 Dan Murphy’s stores in Queensland - from Gold Coast to Cairns - to jump to action.

On June 19th, more than 1,000 team members at 41 Dan Murphy’s stores hosted barbecues, serving more than 6,800 snags to customers in one Saturday. The Dan Murphy’s Woolloongabba also sold 250 beanies on behalf of the Mark Hughes Foundation.

In total, Elias and his Queensland Dan Murphy’s colleagues raised $31,782 during the month of June alone.

Dan Murphy’s Managing Director Alex Freudmann had committed to match the fundraised dollar for dollar, which means Elias will be handing over almost $65,000 to the Mark Hughes Foundation.

“This has been a whirlwind experience, and it has just blown my mind how everyone got onboard with the fundraising,” Elias said.

“I’m just so thankful for everyone’s efforts, and it was incredible to see how quickly it tidal waved from one barbeque at a local store to statewide efforts, and then Alex Freudmann matching the funds raised. It has been an unbelievable experience,” he added.

Dan Murphy’s Managing Director Alex Freudmann said it was heartwarming to see how Elias’ story connected with team members and prompted them to action.

“We have an incredible and passionate team, and it has been wonderful to see everyone come together to support such an important cause. Thank you Elias for sharing your story, and for inspiring all of us,” Alex said.

Mark Hughes of the Mark Hughes Foundation said he couldn’t believe the incredible results of Elias’ initiative.

"I've been telling everyone that every beanie makes a difference, but I might have to change that to every snag makes a difference now!" he joked.

"I couldn't believe it when I was told how much had been raised from this idea. Our foundation belongs to the community, and when people from the community take the time to get involved like this reminds of the exact reason we set Mark Hughes Foundation up. I can't thank Elias and the Dan Murphy's team in Queensland enough for taking the initiative to make a difference for people suffering from Brain Cancer. We're truly humbled by the $65,000 that has been raised,” Mr Hughes added.

It was in 2019 that Elias was diagnosed with stage 3 of Anaplasticependymoma, which is a brain cancer that is technically incurable but treatable. He underwent two operations to remove the tumour, and 36 daily rounds of radiation.

“As a side effect, I am now technically half blind because of the location of the tumour. At the time, I had just finished all my studies to be a pilot, but being half blind, I’m not allowed to fly and the ability to drive is gone too. It’s painful, but you make do. You have to come out the other side,” he said.

The reason Elias is passionate about raising funds for the Mark Hughes Foundation is because it focuses on raising funds for brain cancer research.

“There is only a 20% survival rate of 5 years if you get diagnosed with brain cancer, so I feel it is important to help raise awareness and much needed funding to support vital research,” Elias said.

“I've seen how hard the struggle can be not only on myself but the toll it took on friends and family around me, so I wholeheartedly believe in charities such as the Mark HughesFoundation that are making a difference everyday. I also want to thank my partner April who helped with the barbecues every Saturday in June at the Dan Murphy’s Woolloongabba,” he added.

All the participating Dan Murphy’s stores were allocated funds by the business so they could organise the charity barbecues, and Woolworths supermarkets donated the food.

For more information, interviews or images, please contact [email protected]

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