BACK ON THE ROAD: Ryan Czernia will have a new customised van to travel to, and take part in, his sporting events with the help of a $5000 donation from Swich On.
BACK ON THE ROAD: Ryan Czernia will have a new customised van to travel to, and take part in, his sporting events with the help of a $5000 donation from Swich On. Claudia Baxter

Fund-raising switches on to help Ryan

THE outstanding work of men's group Swich On was there for all to see yesterday when Ipswich muscular dystrophy sufferer Ryan Czernia proudly showed off his new Mercedes van.

Ryan, 25, received $5000 from Swich On so the customised van could be purchased to enable him to be transported by his family.

Swich On hosted a fund-raising luncheon at Brothers Leagues Club yesterday attended by over 120 people with the money raised going to Ryan and the QRL initiative Turn to Me, which assists footballers suffering from depression.

Queensland league legends Gene Miles and Steve Walters were guest speakers at the function.

Ryan, a Broncos fan, plays power chair football for Queensland, and also competes locally in hockey, rugby and balloon soccer.

He said the new van was much appreciated.

"It was very important for me, because our old van wasn't reliable any more," he said. "It had gone about 1.4 million kilometres.

"It is really good to have the Mercedes Vito now. If we didn't have the donation from Swich On we wouldn't have got the new van."

Ryan was diagnosed when he was three and stopped walking after his ninth birthday. His mum Kerrie drives her son around and said the old van was just about to conk out.

"We had started fund-raising … and then I sent an email to Swich On," she said.

"Their support has been so good, because fund-raising is hard work. Ryan needs the car to get him to sport, and the last van kept on breaking down on the Ipswich Motorway."

Meanwhile Walters, who played his junior football in Ipswich, told the QT that the Western Corridor NRL bid would be a great boost to the city.

"I know plenty of work has gone into the bid, and it is going to be very competitive with the other bids," Walters said.

"I am probably a bit biased, but I would love to see it get up. Whether they (the NRL) add another team is still a mystery.

"But the western corridor is a real growth area with lots of families, and there are lots of young boys playing footy.

"The region has certainly grown a lot since we were young kids."

Walters said it was always a thrill to be back in Ipswich.

"It is always nice to be here and catch up with some old familiar faces," he said.

Swich On vice-president Grant Owen said the day was a huge success.

"This is our first major event for 2014 for the Swich On boys, and we have got a pretty big rugby league background across our membership and our board.

"It is good to start the year with a rugby league theme and we have two worthy causes in the Turn to Me initiative that the QRL supports, and in addition to that helping Ryan Czernia who has muscular dystrophy."

 See the QT next week for Gene Miles's recollections of playing against the Tommy Raudonikis-coached Jets in the 1980s.



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