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Dene Halatau (Bulldogs), Johnathan Thurston (Cowboys) and Akuila Uate (Knights) are amongst fifteen finalists for Rugby League’s top honour for community service – the 2012 Ken Stephen Medal presented by Telstra.

Rugby League fans have until 11:59pm next Monday (13 August, 2012) to vote via for the NRL player who they believe has demonstrated outstanding community service.

“We congratulate all of these young men on their nominations; their tireless work in the community deserves to be recognised, so it is fitting that they have been announced as finalists for the most prestigious accolade the ARLC can award for such service – the Ken Stephen Medal presented by Telstra,” said ARL Commission General Manager of Community, Culture and Diversity, Ms Trish Crews.

“They are testament to the heart of Rugby League, and we’re proud to have them as ambassadors of the code.

“The fans help to decide on who will receive the 2012 Ken Stephen Medal presented by Telstra, so we hope everyone takes a few moments to vote online.”

Last year’s winner, Broncos skipper Sam Thaiday whose teammate Jharal Yow Yeh is a 2012 finalist, expressed the importance of the Ken Stephen Medal presented by Telstra.

“To win last year was incredibly humbling,” Sam Thaiday said.

“The boys listed as finalists this year, including Jharal, are especially deserving of recognition,” said Thaiday.

“The ability to support your community regardless of your position is a gift, and it’s great to see players involved in the many programs that our Clubs and One Community allow us to take part in.”

The 2012 Ken Stephen Medal presented by Telstra finalists are:

Jharal Yow Yeh (Brisbane Broncos):

Jharal’s commitment to making a difference amongst Indigenous Australians has seen him take on a range of community programs. Throughout 2012, Jharal has travelled to Normanton in Far North Queensland in his role as a Deadly Ears ambassador to address the impact of hearing loss in children; taken part in community service announcements for the Indigenous Family and Child Support Service; acted as ambassador for PCYC’s program for at risk Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and supported the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services’ Indigenous Youth Leadership Program.

Terry Campese (Canberra Raiders):

Terry has committed countless hours of his spare time to visit schools and hospitals in addition to multiple ambassadorial roles with local charities. After being appointed ambassador of Canteen ACT in 2011, he launched the Terry Campese Golf Day which raises vital funds to support young people with cancer and he intends to run another Golf Day in 2012. He is also an ambassador with Ronald McDonald House at Canberra Hospital and has raised more than $12,000 for several local charities by hosting BBQs with his fellow teammates.

Dene Halatau (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs):

2012 is the second year in a row Dene has been a finalist for the Ken Stephen Medal presented by Telstra. As a leading force in the Bulldogs in the Community program, Dene has spent significant time with the RSPCA, Camp Quality, Movember and the Children’s Hospital at Westmead.  In addition to his exemplary club community involvement, Dene spends much of his spare time performing ambassador duties for the Violet Foundation Supporting Meningococcal, Juvenile Arthritis Fundraiser (JAF), Save our Sons in support of Duchene Muscular Dystrophy as well as being one of the key NRL players involved with the Mindfield Project.

Ben Ross (Cronulla Sharks):

Ben extends his professionalism and passion on the field to his life within the community. He is known at the club for consistently putting himself forward for community activities above and beyond what is required of him, including mentoring young males at Sutherland PCYC’s ‘Footy Fever’ program and One Community’s ‘Eat Well, Play Well, Stay Well’ programme.

Scott Prince (Gold Coast Titans):

This year alone, Scott has spent in excess of 120 hours and travelled 4,500 kilometres to participate in community initiatives. These hours are in addition to his role as a Learn Earn Legend! ambassador and the many hours spent at local events and schools.  

George Rose (Manly Warringah Sea Eagles)

George spends much of his spare time as a mentor at a number of schools, community events, sporting functions and juvenile justice facilities. His community involvement this year has seen him travel across New South Wales. As a reading captain for the Sea Eagles Reads Program for three years, George’s influence has seen 70% of his students increase their literacy outcomes.

Matt Duffie (Melbourne Storm):

Matt Duffie has embraced one of the Storm’s support partners, The Epilepsy Foundation of Victoria and has been very active in raising awareness of the condition, as well as engaging directly with people suffering from epilepsy. Matt has been the driving force behind a number of the Storm’s initiatives for the Foundation, acting as the face and spokesperson of the dedicated match day against the Roosters, working in partnership with the club to deliver a wide range of activities and programs. Matt has also shown commitment to several other charities, including fundraising initiatives for Molly Meldrum, the Starlight Foundation and for those affected by the Christchurch earthquakes.

Akuila Uate (Newcastle Knights):

Throughout 2012, Akuila has shown passion and commitment to community above and beyond club programs. After the devastating floods in Fiji earlier this year, Akuila instigated a fundraising initiative with the Knights, organising a gold coin donation at the Round 6 game and auctioning off signed jerseys to support the areas most affected. In May, Akuila granted a very special wish to a seriously ill Knights fan through the Starlight Foundation and frequently visits Ronald McDonald House Newcastle to spend time with some of the children and families who are staying there.

Johnathan Thurston (North Queensland Cowboys):

Johnathan has consistently used his profile as a role model to positively impact Indigenous communities across Australia. He runs inspirational workshops with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander secondary school students that promote the importance of attending school and engaging in educational activities. The workshops, which have reached more than 20 schools throughout Southern and Central Queensland, focus on students setting goals and applying themselves academically. Johnathan’s community involvement across the year extends to his ongoing ambassadorship of the Cowboys’ Learn Earn Legend! program,and unveiling Charters Towers School of Distance’s first virtual classroom and attending the Obe Geia Challenge, which hopes to reduce truancy, promote safety in sport and bring the Townsville and Palm Island communities together.

Tim Mannah (Parramatta Eels):

Tim has thrown his support behind the Cancer Council, a charity very close to his heart (Tim’s brother, Johnny, is currently undergoing treatment for Lymphoma). In addition to his work with the Cancer Council as ambassador throughout the 2012 Call to Arms round, Tim regularly visits Ronald McDonald House Westmead, and recently hosted the charities Meal with a Heart dinner.

Tim Grant (Penrith Panthers):

Throughout 2012, Tim has dedicated his time to foster multiple local community initiatives across Penrith. His involvement includes delivering motivational talks to students in the Panthers on the Prowl classroom, serving as ambassador of Panthers Women in League campaign for the McGrath Foundation, joining Penrith MP Stuart Ayres in a campaign to speak out about violence against women and leading countless Junior Rugby League clinics.

Jason Nightingale (St George Illawarra Dragons):

This year Jason continued his strong focus on mentoring and guiding younger Australians, spending many hours as a mentor with St George Youth Services ‘Links to Learning Program’, PCYC’s ‘Footy Fever’ Program, and One Community’s Dream Believe Achieve in high schools across Sydney. Jason served as an ambassador for this year’s Premier Sporting Challenge, which saw him promoting the benefits of a healthy and active lifestyle to students and school communities.

Anthony Minichiello (Sydney Roosters):

Since making his NRL debut in 2000, Anthony’s presence within the community has continued to grow each year. Anthony is an ambassador for both the Sydney Children’s Hospital and the Starlight Foundation where he has been a mentor for many children throughout the past five years. He has regularly visited schools in the Eastern Suburbs throughout the year promoting healthy diet and regular exercise and several junior football clubs promoting the game of Rugby League. Early this year, Anthony also participated in the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race to raise funds for The Loyal Foundation and Humpty Dumpty Charity.

Elijah Taylor (Warriors):

In just two years as an NRL player, Elijah has forged a reputation in the community as a role model for young people. He is passionate about visiting small communities throughout New Zealand, including his primary school in Owhata and at-risk-youth in Patea, to inspire young people to work hard for their dreams. Elijah is also set to be announced as an ambassador for a domestic abuse organisation in New Zealand.

Keith Galloway (Wests Tigers):

Keith has worked extensively with the Exodus Foundation throughout 2012. As ambassador for the charity’s ‘Can Drive’, Keith encouraged fans to donate canned food at matches. In addition, he has helped to re-engage children in literacy through his work with the Exodus Reading Program in Ashfield and is also a regular volunteer with the Exodus Night Van, feeding Sydney’s homeless.

** South Sydney Rabbitohs have chosen not to nominate a player for the Ken Stephen Medal as they did not feel they could single out just one player.

The Ken Stephen Medal presented by Telstra, established in 1988, is named after the late Ken Stephen, who dedicated more than 28 years to Rugby League as a player, community advocate and administrator. The winner will receive $5,000 and $5,000 for their favourite charity courtesy of Telstra.

Nominations for all categories of the One Community Awards have now closed, with finalists for awards such as Toyota National Volunteer of the Year and Harvey Norman Women in League Achievement Award to be announced later this month.

Now in its sixth year, the One Community Awards will launch Telstra Premiership Grand Final Week, with the awards taking place at Sydney’s Town Hall on September 24.

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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