North Melbourne forward Jaidyn Stephenson has won the Peter Scanlon Community Award at the 2023 Syd Barker Medal for his work with national not-for-profit organisation, HeartKids.
Diagnosed with a genetic heart condition in 2017, right before being drafted, Jaidyn Stephenson turned a setback into an opportunity to give back, joining HeartKids as an ambassador.
HeartKids is focused on supporting and advocating for children and their families impacted by childhood heart disease. Jaidyn has been involved as an ambassador for six years.
Having been described as having a “heart of gold”, Jaidyn has a passion for helping others and goes about his work in the HeartKids community with enormous empathy and care.
The impact he can have as an AFL player is not lost on Jaidyn, he is a role model for young heart patients and over the past six years has exceeded expectations in his ambassadorial role.
From fundraising and promotional work to building a network of genuine, ongoing friendships with heart patients and their families, Jaidyn’s contribution to HeartKids has been extraordinary. And he has done so without fanfare or the need for recognition, a testament to his character.
Out of his want to give back, Jaidyn’s Lunch for the Kids was born. The annual event has become a staple on the HeartKids fundraising calendar. Now into its sixth year, Jaidyn’s Lunch for the Kids has raised over $300,000 the organisation.
Most of the funds raised are contributed towards HeartKids Teen Camps which are run across the country for teenagers aged 13-17 living with a heart condition.
Jaidyn attends the camps regularly where he shares his personal journey with a heart condition, inspiring young people to believe they can achieve their dreams despite their own challenges.
Aside from these major events, Jaidyn also volunteers his time to visit heart patients at the Royal Children’s Hospital, attends promotional shoots for major HeartKids campaigns, donates personal football items for auction at HeartKids events, and has connected a number of teammates to HeartKids which has seen their network of support grow.