Essendon’s longstanding partnership with Challenge was another massive success in 2024, with the club raising more than $130,000 for the organisation’s fight against kids’ cancer this year.

In addition to Red Dog’s Big Groom in the pre-season, general donations and the Challenge game itself, the club’s recent auction of player-worn boots and guernseys gave another big boost following the round nine fixture.

Across 20 years, Essendon and Challenge have raised an estimated total of $1,000,000 for the cause directly from the yearly game and surrounding activations.


Essendon CEO Craig Vozzo commended the partnership between Challenge and the Bombers following a rewarding week of opportunities for players to connect with the community.

“The partnership with Challenge is one our football club is very proud to have been a part of for more than 20 years,” Vozzo said.

“Being able to support such an important cause and seeing our players, supporters and staff unite around this community always creates a great sense of pride within our club. Welcoming the children and their families to the club was a rewarding experience for all involved.

“The Challenge game was a terrific week to be involved in and we’re very excited to see what this partnership continues to hold in future.”

Premiership player and cancer survivor Adam Ramanauskas, whose own health battle inspired the club’s Challenge partnership, visited the NEC Hangar and made a special speech to Essendon players ahead of their round nine clash with the Giants, praising the group for their willingness to support the cause.

"What cancer did for me is it gave me a bit more perspective on life and what others are suffering," Ramanauskas said. 

"I think what the playing group is doing now, particularly with the Challenge kids, is quite amazing. The boots being painted was absolutely magnificent, the guys that went into the hospital yesterday in giving up their time, it's little things like that which I don't think they realise the impact they have on these young kids lives.

"The highlight of these kids' lives might be running out on the field with them. It's a moment those kids will never forget."


Players across both Essendon’s AFL and AFLW programs have made monthly visits to hospitals spending time with children this season, including a special moment two weeks ago where Matt Guelfi and Georgia Nanscawen had their nails painted by young fan Alexis.

Guelfi made good on his promise to show off the nails in his goal celebrations, booting three majors in the Challenge game after Alexis declared she ‘believed in him’ to hit the scoreboard.


The Bombers have created meaningful relationships from these opportunities, with Jake Stringer and Darcy Parish frequent contributors to the support space and Dyson Heppell forming a special bond with his mate Harrison.

Challenge CEO David Rogers is proud of the legacy being formed from another successful year between the two organisations so far.

“The 2024 Tackling Childhood Cancer campaign has been a beacon of hope and joy for our families. The support from the Essendon Football Club has been overwhelming, turning a simple game into a powerful force for good."

“Seeing the smiles on the kids’ faces, enjoying everything that the week provided, means so much to the families. It’s helps to reassure them that they are supported by a caring community. The Essendon players' dedication and kindness have given these families moments they will cherish forever."

“This game was about more than just football; it was about showing support and solidarity for children and families living with cancer."