NRL player and Captain
Rugby league has been a big part of Ryan's life since he was just five years old. From kicking goals at his local junior club in Tweed Heads, he went on to be an ARL school boy representative and later represented the Queensland Schoolboys before being selected for the Australian Schoolboys squad.
Today, he's a popular Forward and Captain of the Gold Coast Titans in the National Rugby League and in 2018 was selected to represent NSW in the State of Origin.
He's known for his on-field strength, his love of coffee and his trademark long hair. Well, that long hair was his trademark until recently, when he cut his famous locks to raise money for Starlight. Ryan's fundraising was inspired after meeting a young Titans fan, Harrison.
At the end of his match, Ryan jumped the fence to pose for a photo with Harrison who uses a wheelchair so was unable to get to the side-line to meet the players. When Ryan learnt that Harrison planned to walk the last kilometre of Brisbane's City 2 South fun run to support Starlight, he was further inspired to see how he could help out and signed on as a Starlight ambassador in 2017.
For Harrison to get out of his wheelchair and walk the last kilometre, to raise money for others is a pretty mighty effort and I just wanted to help in some way.Ryan James
So to support Harrison and the thousands of kids that Starlight helps every year, Ryan chopped his famous locks and raised over $6,500 - enough to grant a Starlight Wish! He said: "I got involved because I love the work Starlight does with kids and I knew I would enjoy being part of such a great organisation."
Ryan's community spirit is well known at the club and in the QLD community and we were delighted to welcome him as a Starlight Ambassador in 2017.
When you have children of your own and you do things for Starlight and meet kids who are pretty sick, you are extremely thankful that your own kids are healthy and realise how lucky you are.Ryan James
Since then, he’s donated countless auction prizes for Starlight Five Chefs and Starball, has fundraised again for Starlight through his Junior Club the Bilambil Jets and proudly endorsed the launch of Starlight’s Reconciliation Action Plan in 2017.
In 2018 Ryan was awarded the Ken Stephen Medal at the 2018 Dally M Awards for his services to the community. "I'm happy to use my profile to help others. I never lose sight of that - that’s a privilege and an honour."
When asked what he loves most about Starlight, Ryan said it's the fun and enjoyment given to children and their families during tough times.
"Through their Wishgranting program, Starlight helps give people things they would't necessarily have been able to get themselves. Starlight puts a smile on a child’s face in their most trying times,” he said.
Our thanks to Ryan (and his famous locks!) for his club, the Gold Coast Titans, for their amazing support of Starlight.
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