TIGER CUB Blake Driden will step out with star forward Jack Riewoldt on Friday night in the fight for Maddie’s Vision.
Blake and Riewoldt will walk through a guard of honour on to the ground for the annual Maddie’s Match between Richmond and St Kilda, dedicated to Maddie Riewoldt – Jack’s cousin and St Kilda great Nick Riewwoldt’s sister – and her fight against Bone Marrow Failure.
Ballarat’s Blake was diagnosed with severe aplastic anaemia, the same as Maddie, a cancer with which the body fails to produce enough blood cells.
Blake underwent a bone marrow transplant in March last year but his condition since has been a dramatic rollercoaster. He has no immune system, so even the seemingly simplest outings can turn dangerous fast.
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His Richmond AFL heroes have maintained close contact with Blake, even inviting him to be part of a closed training session in their finals campaign last season.
Blake family said Maddie’s Match at Etihad Stadium was sure to stir the emotions.
“This, for Blake, the Dridan family, friends and supporters of Blake, will be a night never to be forgotten,” they posted on Blake’s Fight Facebook page.
“There have been so many dark days in Blake’s journey for so many people - Blake himself, family, friends and the many people who have supported Blake and his family along the way.
“As Blake walks out with Jack tonight, it will be a massive celebration of his fight so far. It is a night for Blake to stare down the demons of BMF and let them know that he won’t be beaten.”
Maddie died in 2015 after five years with aplastic anaemia but she remained resolute her suffering would make a difference.
The Tigers and Saints play an AFL game in her honour to promote Maddie’s Vision, fighting for improved treatment and a cure to Bone Marrow Failure Syndromes.
To support: mrv.org.au.
To follow Blake’s journey, check out his Blake’s Fight Facebook page here.