10 May 2024

Local celebrities and pro athletes tee off for the community

| Jacqueline Lyons
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Rugby League player being interviewed

Former Canberra Raiders star Sia Soliola says he was thrilled to be part of the day. Thomas Lucraft.

A new wave of people in need has made the work of the Vinnies Winter Appeal all the more critical in 2024.

After a successful day on the greens last year, Federal Golf Club pro Matt Millar and former Canberra Raiders star Sia Soliola have returned with the second ‘Sleepin Rough Invitational’. Their goal? To raise over $40,000 for Vinnies Winter Appeal.

Matt says he and Sia came up with the idea to help a Canberra organisation in 2023.

“We wanted to create a golf event that would bring together local celebrities, sports stars and golf professionals. We thought it would be a unique approach to raising money for a great cause,” Matt says.

“I was chatting with Sia, and we started talking about what we should do with our free time after finishing up our careers.”

When Sia was approached, the former prop said it was a no-brainer to do what he could to contribute.

Three people in front of a banner

Pro Golfer Matt Millar, Vinnies Canberra/ Goulburn CEO Lucy Hohnen and former Raiders star Sia Soliola gear up to tee off for the Canberra community. Photo: Thomas Lucraft.

“I loved the idea of doing something for the community after a tough few years,” Sia says.

“Vinnies provides so many different programs that we really wanted to get behind. I’ve done a bit of work with them and their CEO Sleepouts and a few other projects, so it felt like the next logical step to help them out again with other initiatives like the Winter Appeal.

“They run so many programs every year, and they rely on events like these to raise as much money as they can to help the community, which really is what days like this are all about.”

READ ALSO How are prices decided at Vinnies stores?

Sia says he was thrilled to spend the day reconnecting with old Canberra friends after his recent move to Newcastle.

“It’s great to be back and helping out where I can … I’m really excited to be among the friends I’ve made in the Canberra community again.”

Vinnies CEO Lucy Hohnen says the initiative has helped them provide food, housing and clothing to people across the Canberra region when they need it most.

READ ALSO Vinnies sets sights on helping more than 6500 people avoid disaster this winter – but they need our help

More than 130 golfers took to the tees, ending with a dinner at the Federal Golf Club, including a silent auction, with all proceeds going directly to the Vinnies Winter Appeal.

The target was well and truly met – they set a cause record. $50,000 raised.

All funds raised went directly to Vinnies, providing urgent and practical support such as food, clothing, essential goods, rental payments, accommodation and medical cost assistance to people experiencing or at risk of homelessness during cold Canberra Winters.

The Vinnies Winter appeal will be running all across the winter months. Donations can be made via Vinnies.

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