In 20 days, Adam Elliott’s name will be read out amongst the other nominees for the annual Ken Stephen medal at the Dally M Awards evening. Whether his name will be read out or not is unknown however, the work within he has done within the community will always be commendable. He doesn’t need to wear a medal around his neck for fans to be proud of him. The “Mad Monday” antics this week should not change that.
After living his childhood in a household with an autistic brother, Elliott chose to use the platform the NRL granted him to make a difference to those with special needs. At only 23 years of age, he teamed up with Giant Steps, the education centre, to make a difference.
The school’s goal is a simple one – provide each child or young adult with the opportunity to reach their full potential while giving families support and guidance in hopes of also improving the wider community’s understanding of autism and its complex nature. Elliott has this same goal and strives to make a difference with Giant Steps as well as with many other programs amongst the community.
A proud athlete, Elliott wants those with special needs to feel the same pride that he has the privilege of feeling every time he takes the field. He became an ambassador for the Special Olympics and has worked with the Bulldogs club to orchestrate Mini Olympics events.
While work amongst the special needs community is very close to his heart, Elliott’s generosity is widespread. He was involved in fundraising for his seaside town Tathra after bushfires tragically swept through the town, majorly affecting those close to him. While he visited his home town, he dropped into the local primary school to talk to the children about his journey through the NRL and even had a game of footy with them.
When you ask whether players like Adam Elliott are good role models after drunken antics post season, question those he has impacted first. Ask the autistic children who can’t wipe the smiles off their faces when he is around. Ask the friends he has known for years who he hugged tightly after they lost so much in bushfires. Ask the children at Tathra Public School who proudly recognise him every time he returns. Ask his brother James.
You’ll struggle to find not just a Bulldogs fan but an NRL fan too who wouldn’t still consider Adam Elliott a great guy for our game of rugby league. NRL fans, I am begging you. Do not let this one incident tarnish your view of these guys. The NRL can be a very dark place with controversy and allegations – often, understandably. This is not one of those situations.
Adam Elliott may not win the Ken Stephen medal but if he doesn’t, it isn’t because he doesn’t deserve it. He has still offered so much to this game and no Mad Monday can change that.