Serious injury inspired newfound perspective in Welch
Christian Welch got a new perspective on life after walking through hospital last year.
He'd just visited his surgeon after rupturing an anterior cruciate ligament playing for the Storm against the Dragons, and was told he'd miss at least nine months of football.
"I was feeling pretty bad about myself," he tells NRL.com.
"Then you see people in wheelchairs, and kids doing it really tough with permanent illness and disability."
It was a chance visit by some kids at Storm training last year that spurred his interest in doing more with the Camp Quality, an organisation that provides a support network to kids battling cancer and their families.
It's also led to his club nominating him for the Ken Stephen Medal, due to his efforts and time in raising awareness for the charity.
"Growing up, I had a really normal childhood," he says.
"I loved going to the park, kicking the footy, playing lots of sport in the sun. And going to some of these camps that Camp Quality has and meeting some of these young kids, that spend six to 10 weeks at a time in hospitals, who haven't had the chance to have the same childhood as us – I think Camp Quality does a great job of adding a bit of a normal childhood."
The 24-year-old is now a Camp Quality ambassador and trained as a fully fledged volunteer.
Over the last year he's brought kids and their families into Storm training sessions and hosted a 'Dine at Mine' event, which raised more than $10,000 for the charity.
Welch is delighted to be able to give back to the community and use his profile as an NRL player positively.
"Our profession as a professional sportsman is naturally a very self-centred job I suppose, because you're always looking at yourself and trying to get better," he says.
"I thought with a bit more spare time, I really want to try and take advantage of our privileged position. We do train hard at the Storm and play games on weekends, but there is also a fair bit of spare time."
He felt proud for getting nominated for the Ken Stephen Medal.
"It was humbling when the (Storm) welfare officers nominated me for the award. We've had a lot of great community work at the Storm that we do, so it was pleasing."