Retired professional rugby league player Sam Thaiday has a long connection to the game in the sunshine state.
Sam grew up in Townsville where he played for his local junior club and followed the North Queensland Cowboys. He was a big fan from an early age and loved watching his local footy heroes.
His own playing career took off when he signed with the Brisbane Broncos in 2003 and made his professional NRL debut that year. He has since spent all of his career at the Broncos, with whom he won the 2006 Premiership. In 2011 he was awarded the Captaincy and went on to win the Dally M Award for Best Second Row player.
He has played an impressive 29 matches for Queensland in the State of Origin series and over 30 test caps to his name representing Australia on successful domestic and European tours.
Playing at the top of his game, Sam was one of only three current players to be named in the Indigenous Australian rugby league team of the century. He retired from NRL at the end of the 2018 season.
One of the most highly regarded and respected players in the League, Sam is also known for his community involvement.
Sam has been awarded the Ken Stephen Medal for his outstanding commitment to a wide range of community and charity activities most notably, his efforts to help close the gap on Indigenous health.
The father of two girls says his involvement with Starlight was an obvious choice.
I have young daughters who've spent some time in hospital, so I've seen first-hand how important Starlight's work is for sick kids and their families.Sam Thaiday
Sam makes the time to visit the Starlight Express Room at Queensland Children's Hospital and loves to muck around with the kids and Captain Starlight! One of his favourite memories was delighting Daria, a die-hard Broncos fan and long-term patient, for her birthday.
Sam said: "I'm a joker inherently so I know how important it is to lighten the mood and have some fun during difficult times. Positive distraction is the best when times are tough."
When asked what he likes most about his involvement with Starlight, Sam says it’s seeing the difference Captain Starlight has on hospitalised kids: "It's such a simple idea - to make kids smile in hospital - and that's what Starlight gives sick kids who are going through hardship."
And we are inspired by Sam's enthusiasm and commitment to helping so many sick kids and can’t thank him enough for his generous support as a Starlight Ambassador.
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