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Australian Rules Hall of Famer Dennis Cometti is putting his iconic voice behind Stratco National Patio Day to raise funds and awareness for Cancer Council.

Dennis lost both his grandfathers to cancer before he was born and says that even though he didn’t go through the experience himself, it very much shaped his family growing up.

It’s an experience that has stayed with him throughout his life and was one of the motivators behind agreeing to be the official ambassador for National Patio Day in 2020, which raises funds and awareness for Cancer Council, while also educating Australians on the importance of sun protection whenever the UV is 3 and above.

With his career spent around some of the country’s best athletes, Cometti has seen Australian sport come a long way in sun protection and education, however says there’s still more work to be done.

“In the 70’s you’d see cricketers and athletes out there in the sun for hours on end without any sun protection—it was almost frowned upon. To keep fit, I used to see athletes run on the road, with many not taking the right precautions. We know that running can wreak havoc on your knees, but now we also know it can be just as damaging on your skin,” he said.

“Sun protection amongst athletes has gotten so much better, but at the same time, when you look at summer sports, there’s still a way to go.”

“I’m the first to admit that I’ve come to sun protection late, partly because of the number of people I’ve seen impacted by skin cancer. Many of them are all round sports people who have been exercising outside for years—when you see their skin now, you can see first-hand the damage years in the sun can do,” he said.

Cometti has had several people close to him impacted by cancer, which he says makes the cause even more personal.

“I’ve certainly seen more cancer around as I’ve gotten older, especially amongst my age group. I’m 71 now and as you would say in the world of TV, am ‘prime time’ for a cancer diagnosis.”

“When I was younger I coached a football team and most of us were in our 20s and 30s. We developed a real strong connection, a really close bond. We still have regular get-togethers and there is always someone who can’t make it because they’re ill. Sadly, cancer is often the reason why. It creeps into everyday life at my age and is doing its darnedest to impact as many people as possible—which is why it’s so important we fight back.”

Cometti says that National Patio Day is a fantastic way to celebrate the start of summer and catch up with loved ones while also raising vital funds to help all Australians impacted by cancer.

“There’s no denying it’s been a tough year for all of us. Through National Patio Day, we can have a great time with family and friends, especially those we might not have seen for a while, while also raising funds and educating the community. It really is a great way to have some fun while making a difference,” he said.

For Cometti, the fact that all money raised supports Cancer Council makes the campaign even more important.

“I’ve always heard of Cancer Council and know the work that they are doing in the community. It’s admirable work.”

“Cancer Council are working every day to defeat something that impacts so many—people like me often take their work for granted. I’m not dealing with it day to day, so I take my hat off to them, I really do.”

“If I can make a difference in some way through supporting National Patio Day then I’m happy to help in any way I can.”

Held on Saturday 5 December, Stratco National Patio Day is a chance to celebrate the first Saturday of summer under the shade of your favourite patio with family, friends, and loved ones while also raising vital funds for Cancer Council.

In 2020, National Patio Day hopes to raise $330,000, which will fund Cancer Council programs and services across the country.

Not only will funds raised support those impacted by cancer, every $20 you raise puts you in the draw to win a Stratco Home Stadium, valued at $30,000.

For more information or to register, visit the National Patio Day website or call 1300 65 65 85 to receive your free National Patio Day host kit.