With $3.1 million dollars raised in the 2019 Beanie For Brain Cancer Round, Mark Hughes says the NRL community's emphatic support will propel his foundation to bigger things.
Fans flocked to buy beanies at NRL matches, IGA and Lowes stores to make the third annual Beanie For Brain Cancer Round a raging success.
Hughes, the former Newcastle fullback who was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2013 and subsequently established the Mark Hughes Foundation, is stoked after the "unbelievable" response to the fundraiser.
And he wants people to realise their contributions go far beyond a round of football.
"The spin-off we get out of the NRL round just goes all year," Hughes told NRL.com.
"People know us now that didn't know us before and people now want to do fundraisers for us. That's what comes off that. People will host their own Beanie For Brain Cancer days, so that'll all happen as well.
"It's an amazing figure [raised] but it's not really over in terms of the extra money that will come along the way due to this amazing round."
Hughes expressed his gratitude to everyone involved in rugby league for being so willing to champion the concept and wear their beanies proudly.
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"It's surreal sometimes. The whole rugby league community, whether it's [NRL CEO] Todd Greenberg, the Fox or Nine commentators in beanies. Whether it's the referees at the coin toss, the ball-boys, the media, the players, the fans – they're all in beanies and they're smiling," he said.
"They're getting behind our cause and it just makes for a really special weekend."
The proceeds from Beanie For Brain Cancer Round will be put straight into research, with the Mark Hughes Foundation's scientific committee to allocate the money in the hopes of finding a cure.
"We've got a big war chest of money and we're going to be investing heavily in some research," Hughes said.
"We're particularly looking at innovative ideas. Immunotherapy is an area that's exciting, but there's lots of things we'll be looking at. The scientific committee will make the right decisions to put the money to the right use."
Hughes said the efforts of his relentless Mark Hughes Foundation and its supporters give him the motivation to power on in his fight against the disease.
"I look around at the MHF team. I look at our volunteers. I look at the Callander family. And then I only have to switch the telly on or read the paper to see the support we've got," he said.
"I don't hesitate to bounce out of bed and keep going. There's a lot of families out there that are in a really tough spot with brain cancer and I love being amongst it giving hope to these people."
NRL CEO Todd Greenberg conveyed his admiration for Hughes and those who were part of Beanie For Brain Cancer Round.
"Brain cancer remains a killer but hopefully the funds raised across the weekend will help find a cure to tackle this disease once and for all," Greenberg said.
Beanie for Brain Cancer round was the concept of former Channel Nine rugby league executive producer Matt Callander, who tragically passed away from the disease in 2017.
His daughter Maddy Callander said she was blown away by this year's outcome.
"I am so proud of my dad as his legacy now lives on in our fight to beat brain cancer. Nothing brings people together like the toughest of challenges," she said.
"My family and I could not be prouder of the support shown. Thanks to all of you, the NRL’s Beanie for Brain Cancer Round has proven that together, we can and will 'change the world'. One beanie at a time."