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24 November 2021
By SARAH MATTHEWS
Stawell shearer Corey Mifsud regularly returns home from a long, gruelling day working in a woolshed to be greeted by his son, Levi, with a basketball in hand.
While Corey, 33, might be sore, tired and in need of a shower, he is thrilled by the opportunity to spend quality time with his son.
Levi, four, has autism and ‘a little bit of ADHD’ – attention deficit hyperactivity disorder – but has come a long way in learning to communicate his wants and needs.
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“Levi is addicted to basketball at the moment, he can’t seem to go anywhere without one,” Corey said.
“I generally get home from work about 6.30-7, I’m pretty exhausted and all he wants to do is go out and play basketball, but it’s great to see.
“In the early days it was hard to communicate with him and interact and work out what he wanted, but now it’s good to know what he wants.”
Corey, his father Robert and brother Brody have joined forces to raise awareness of autism, particularly in children.
The trio plans to shear ‘head to head’ for 24 hours to improve awareness while raising money for Stawell’s Skene Street Specialist School and Merri River School, Warrnambool.
The ‘24-hour Shear Madness’ event will be at Warrnambool Showground on December 10 and 11.
The Mifsuds hope to raise a significant amount of money for children and families with disabilities, with both schools in question sharing ‘wish lists’ with the Shear Madness team.
Corey said he hoped Levi would attend the Skene Street school in 2023.
“We also chose Merri River because we’re hosting our event in Warrnambool,” he said. “We also tried to incorporate the two to attract a broader range of sponsorship.
“Growing up in Warrnambool I have friends whose kids attend the Merri River school. It’s a recently built school that wants to get some funding for 3D printers and so on. They’re also trying to raise money to build a walking track down to the river.”
Corey said his hope for Skene Street was to raise enough money for two new basketball rings and potentially, a basketball court.
“They’ve just got kids’ backyard-style basketball rings there and they’re quite outdated and pretty unsafe for a school, really,” he said.
“We have one bank account, but anything raised from the Wimmera will go to Skene Street and anything from down south will go to Merri River.”
Corey said while he looked forward to the tangible benefits, he was also looking forward to starting conversations about autism.
“That’s one of the biggest things driving us,” he said.
“In the early days especially, we would go out in public and Levi would have a meltdown in the supermarket and people would look at you and judge.
“It’s obvious they are pretty much telling you to control your child and you’re a bad parent, but the reality is, Levi can’t communicate the way other kids can and he’s trying to get across what he wants.
“We just want to raise that awareness for people who might not have autistic children or know autistic people, that these are just normal kids who can’t communicate.”
Corey said since Levi had become better at communicating, he had less ‘meltdowns’.
“They’re not nearly as severe now,” he said.
This will be the second time Corey and Roger have embarked on a physical fundraising challenge, shearing 1542 sheep in 21 hours in 2018 to raise money and awareness of muscular dystrophy.
“Dad beat me in the last one,” Corey said.
“This time we’re going to shear for the 24 hours. Dad and I are hoping to shear over 1000 each.
“Brody hasn’t shorn for five years and his body’s going to be sore, but I think he’ll do 500. He’s a nice little shearer.
“We’re taking 3000 sheep, anyway.”
Corey said the shear-a-thon would be a significant event, with people able to camp at the showground on both days.
“For a gold coin donation, people can camp. There are powered sites, a full bar both nights, live music and food trucks all weekend. Santa is going to be there as well,” he said.
Corey started shearing ‘properly’ at 16, full-time at 18 and now averages about 280 to 300 sheep a day.
“I was probably born to do it, because Dad’s done it ever since I was born,” he said.
“It’s that sort of job, you have to put up with a lot of pain the first 12 months to two years to stick at it.
“But it’s a great industry to get into and there’s so many rewards with it.
“I travelled all of New Zealand in my first 10 years of shearing and I’ve seen more of that country than my own – and pretty much for nothing, because you get paid to do it. You also meet some great people and you learn a lot, such as how to be part of a team.
“I wouldn’t change a thing.”
People can search 24hr Shear Madness on Facebook for information about the shear-a-thon and how to donate money, raffle prizes or auction items.
The entire November 24, 2021 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!
The entire November 24, 2021 edition of AgLife is available online. READ IT HERE!