The Aussies is synonymous with tales of inspiration, hope and determination; competitors fighting against the odds to claim that elusive gold medal. No athlete on the beach, though, traversed a tougher path to Kurrawa than 17-year-old Jordan Hart.
When Jordan took to the start line throughout the DHL 2011 Australian Surf Life Saving Championships, his mere presence was enough to inspire not only his Northcliffe club mates, but every competitor taking part in the event.
The Northcliffe junior was first diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2009, and after intensive treatment went into remission; however, the cancer returned in November 2010.
But that wasn't enough to stop the talented swimmer from returning to competition.
“He’s got so much natural ability and a determination to compete no matter what,” said Northcliffe Head Coach Barry Newman.
“He’s just a kid who wants to get on with the job, but after races he gets a bit unwell and his training schedule has been disrupted – which is a shame because if he was 100%, he’d be one of our elite.
“But he just gets on with it and doesn’t make a big deal of his condition; he probably wouldn’t tell you he had it.
“In fact, when it [the cancer] came back again he just said to me ‘I won’t be at training this week, I’ve got to go back to hospital …I’ve got cancer again,’ and that’s how he told me.”
When speaking to Northcliffe club members, the sense of pride and inspiration garnered from Jordan’s appearance in elite competition is palpable; Shannon Eckstein is one such competitor.
“His desire to get out there and compete, despite his condition, has inspired the whole team,” said the three time Australian Ironman Champion.
“When he gets to training and you see the effort he puts in, it’s great to watch because he just goes 100%.
“It just makes you put things in perspective - you realise very quickly that most of the problems in your life aren’t that bad at all.”
In his role as Northcliffe’s Under-19 team manager, Brian Booth has more to do with Jordan than most and he has seen first-hand the year 12 student’s journey through treatment.
“His performances just continue to surprise me, no matter what his condition – he competed in a few events at the Aussies, including the Under-19 taplin and board rescue and he didn't let anyone down.
“Jordan’s tenacity matches his skill level, he has this uncanny ability to pick a wave and pop up at the front of any surf race.
“Last year when he was in remission, he joined with three other boys to win the Under -17 Patrol Competition at the 2010 Aussies – that’s pretty remarkable.
“The whole club is behind him and we are doing whatever we can to help him get through this.”
Now that Jordan’s story is out there, there’s no doubt the whole Surf Life Saving movement is behind him too.
How you can help
Jordan’s club, Northcliffe, is asking all members of the community to assist in some way.
Right now Jordan is undergoing treatment with a new drug from overseas and will need a bone marrow transplant soon. The big trouble is finding a donor. Here's where all surf lifesavers can help.
Jordan and his family are urging people to sign on to the Australian Bone Marrow Donor Registry and undertake a simple process that may unearth the one-in-a-thousand match that Jordan needs.
Donors must be between 18-40 years of age at registration and in good health. If that’s not you, you can still help by passing this email onto your friends and family.
So here's what Northcliffe want you to do for Jordan.
1. Call the Red Cross Blood Service on 13 14 95
2. Make an appointment to give blood.
3. Remember to ask the nurse at reception for the ABMDR consent form and complete this form before donating blood.
4. Tell at least 10 friends and family about this.