Family of League assisting rugby league people in need.

Russell’s Journey: Strength, Resilience and the Power of Community

(The following was written by one of our wonderful wellbeing recipients)

On January 8th, our lives took an unexpected turn. At 12:30 PM, (my husband) Russell suffered a severe accident, falling off a ladder while giving a mate a hand. In an instant, our world was turned upside down. Russell sustained a nasty head injury, broken ribs 2-9 with multiple fractures on his right side, adding up to 12 in total, a punctured lung, a pneumothorax, a hemothorax and a broken left hand. Weekly X-rays to monitor his pneumothorax and hemothorax, and while his recovery has been slow, each small victory is celebrated. He’s progressing well, and every step forward is a testament to his strength and resilience.

Our son Tristan, who is also involved in Rugby League and has played U21s for Norths Devils over the past three years, was onsite with Russell. He heard a noise behind him and found his father unconscious, lying in a pool of blood from his head wound. The ambulance was called immediately, and Russell was rushed to St. Vincent’s Hospital, where he was admitted to the ICU. To add to our difficulties, Russell’s COVID test came back positive, restricting visitors to just me (his wife Sam).

The early days were terrifying. Russell was in critical condition, and the ICU protocols meant our children and extended family couldn’t visit. Yet, every day, we witnessed a miracle. Russell’s condition gradually improved, and soon he was discharged and came back home to Brisbane, where further testing revealed his injuries were worse than initially thought. He was readmitted for another week of treatment. Despite these challenges, we were grateful for every small step forward and that he was with us and could heal.

Reflecting on the accident, it’s incredible how something as routine as climbing a ladder can lead to such profound consequences. Russell has been in the construction industry for over 30 years and has played footy since he was six. He had never broken a bone before this. Climbing ladders was second nature to him. This incident has served as a stark reminder of life’s fragility and unpredictability.

Through this ordeal, we have been overwhelmed by the support we’ve received. Tristan’s friends stepped in to help with work for our friends, and our amazing network of family and friends rallied around us.

One organisation, in particular, has been our lifeline: The Family of League. Their unwavering support has been remarkable. From food and fuel vouchers to assistance with paying bills, they have been there for us every step of the way.

Russell’s healing journey continues, with at least three more months of recovery expected after his next operation. The road ahead is daunting, and there are moments of uncertainty, but our faith remains strong. We believe in Russell’s ability to heal and know that, with time and support, he will make a full recovery.

The accident has not only been a physical battle but an emotional and financial one as well. Living week to week has been our reality for a long time, and this incident has intensified our struggles. However, the generosity and kindness of our community have been our lifeline. The GoFundMe page set up by Damien Matthews, and the countless messages of support have made an immeasurable difference.

We had the honour of sharing our story at The Family of League’s May event hosted by the Redcliffe Dolphins. The genuine support and kindness we encountered there were overwhelming. It was a humbling experience to be surrounded by people who truly cared about our journey and wanted to help. We hope our story can bring hope to others facing similar traumas and encourage those who can, to please support this incredible organisation.

I want to highlight the role that The Family of League has played for us. Their support has been instrumental in keeping us afloat during this turbulent time. Nothing could prepare us for the challenges we faced in the past year – from the illness and passing of Russell’s father to my mother’s health struggles. Russell’s accident compounded our difficulties, leaving us without income for six months so far.

Their fundraising efforts, luncheons, and golf days are vital in supporting families like ours who are facing unimaginable hardships. If you can, please support their initiatives. Your contributions make a significant impact on families of League that are in need.

We just wanted to express our deepest gratitude to everyone who has helped us along this journey. Your kindness, prayers, messages, and support have had a profound impact on our lives. We are incredibly blessed to have such an amazing community. We will never forget the love and generosity we’ve received.

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. We are blessed beyond measure.

With heartfelt gratitude,

Sam, Russell and Family ❤️‍