Cronulla Sharks winger Ronaldo Mulitalo has won the 2021 Ken Stephen Medal in recognition of his wholehearted community and charity work.
Mulitalo, 21, was selected as the 33rd recipient of the award - brought to you by Your Local Club - ahead of fellow finalists Jamal Fogarty (Gold Coast Titans), Ryan Matterson (Parramatta Eels) and Cody Walker (South Sydney Rabbitohs).
An esteemed judging panel, chaired by inaugural 1988 Ken Stephen Medal winner Wayne Pearce, bestowed the honour on Mulitalo.
As part of the prize, he will collect $3500 for his nominated charity, Stepping Stone House, and pocket $3500 himself.
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"At just 21, Ronaldo has displayed leadership beyond his years," NRL Acting Head of Participation, Pathways & Community Andrew Every said.
"He has led the Sharks community appearance hours two years in a row, genuinely passionate to give back to the community.
"One of the most admirable qualities about Ronaldo is his selflessness. I was impressed to find out that during the lockdown restrictions in New South Wales he was calling Sharks club staff offering financial support.
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"Thank you to Ronaldo for being a walking example of the NRL beliefs of being inclusive, positive, united and disciplined.
"The work he is doing is having an incredibly positive impact on communities, not just in Australia but also in the Pacific.
"It is a privilege to recognise Ronaldo during the biggest day of our year. Ronaldo is an example of the many players who dedicate their time to giving back to the community.
"COVID presented many challenges in 2021 but these players found a way to still make a positive difference. Well done to all the 2021 nominees for the incredible contribution that they make to the community.
"Our partnership with Clubs NSW is invaluable. We share the common goal of supporting our communities and it is very fitting that they have partnered with us for the Ken Stephen Medal and the Community Rugby League Club of the Year Award for 2021."
ClubsNSW chairman Dr George Peponis OAM paid tribute to Mulitalo's exceptional generosity and kindness.
"On behalf of the NSW club industry, I want to congratulate Ronaldo Mulitalo of the Cronulla Sutherland Sharks for winning this prestigious award," Peponis said.
"At just 21 years of age, Ronaldo is already such an incredible role model and his work - both on and off the field - is truly admirable.
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"Our organisation is very proud to have sponsored the NRL's Ken Stephen Medal under the Your Local Club banner this year.
"The competition was very tight, and we wish Ronaldo and all of the other nominees continued success in the years to come."
While Mulitalo is always willing to help, one of the causes closest to his heart is Stepping Stone House's mission to provide a safe place for at-risk and homeless children and young people.
"My mum always raised me to be a shining light in anyone's life," Mulitalo said.
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"If we can chip away at it and raise awareness and use this platform, then we're doing our job as a person and as a man, I'm doing my job.
"Stepping Stone House is an organisation that is not government funded. It's to help these kids that have been neglected at a young age and have seen things they shouldn't see at that age.
"We try to give them goals in their life to achieve. We fill them with love, fill them with a house. Some of these kids have never had a bed in their life, so they've been given a bed, given their own space, given their own privacy.
"Us [as ambassadors] as well as the staff there are making sure that they still achieve things in their life to go on and be successful."