Launceston gets icy for motor neuron disease

More than 40 Launcestonians plunged themselves into a pool of icy water on Saturday for the Launceston Big Freeze.

The event is one of a number around the country that raises money for FightMND, with all money raised going towards motor neurone disease research.

Participants included treasurer Peter Gutwein, TV presenter Jo Palmer, Launceston alderman Janie Finlay and ex-AFL footballer Paul Hudson.

The charity’s founder and patron, ex-Melbourne Football Club coach Neale Daniher, was present at the Quadrant Mall for the event.

Daniher was diagnosed with mnd in 2014, and has made it his mission to help find a cure for the disease.

He said he was thrilled with the turnout.

“It’s a really great turnout, and what a beautiful day in Tasmania,” he said.

“We’re very appreciative of all the support from Launceston and the Tasmanian people.

“We’re overwhelmed with the support, and we know that this disease is underfunded, so every dollar counts.”

Close to $6,000 was raised from tin collections and Big Freeze beanie sales at the event, while a still unconfirmed amount was raised from the participants. 

The 2016 Big Freeze, in conjunction with the related ball, raised more than $110,000 for mnd research.

Event organisers are hoping the final tally this year will top the 2016 total.

Health minister Michael Ferguson personally donated $500 to the cause, before braving the icy water slide on Saturday morning.

He commented that the day was a showcase of Launceston’s generous spirit.

“I think it’s for a great cause, and I think if mp’s are supporting it like this, then it inspires others to be able to give what they’re able to as well,” he said.

“I think this event shows that Launceston’s an exemplar of community generosity, and that we understand that this is a disease that is an awful disease.

“People feel helpless, except when there’s an organisation like this which gives people an opportunity to make a contribution that will make a difference.”

The Big Freeze event first began in 2015, with AFL personalities and Australian celebrities sliding into an ice bath during the annual Melbourne versus Collingwood Queen’s Birthday clash.

In 2017, the Melbourne Big Freeze event raised more than $4 million. 

Since its inception in 2015, FightMND has raised more than $15 million toward mnd research.


  • It is a progressive, terminal neurological disease that can strike anyone.
  • There is no known cure and no effective treatment 
  • Each day two people die from MND in Australia 
  • People with MND progressively lose the use of their limbs and ability to speak, swallow and breathe, whilst their mind and senses remain intact.
  • The average life expectancy is 2.5 years.
  • About 58 per cent of people with MND are under the age of 65.