One year on, Rally for Relief followed by touching poem

  • ausopen.com

One year ago, some of the biggest stars in tennis came together at Rod Laver Arena for an incredible night of fundraising. 

Rally for Relief raised more than $6 million for recovery efforts in the wake of especially devastating bushfires that ravaged rural communities in several Australian states and territories throughout the summer of 2020.

A poignant moment came early in the evening, when, after it was announced that several firefighters were courtside to enjoy the tennis action, the entire crowd joined together in a rousing standing ovation.

Since then, renowned Australian novelist, poet and playwright Thomas Keneally wrote and donated a poem to the Red Cross, celebrating the humanity shown by Australians in the 2020 bushfire response and recovery.

It is every bit as touching as the scenes that unfolded at Rally for Relief a year earlier.

 

You saved strangers when you didn’t know whether your own were still standing,
Unobserved, you said, with ashes on your tongue, the crucial words of solace.
Amidst flames so tall, and cloaking smoke, you did the small, brave things for people
whose names you did not know.
When the palaver of economics, and the spite of politics, told us we were many,
and were bitter, you showed we were one, and were human.
When all seemed devalued, you gave events your own unheralded value.
The value of your offered hours and days, the value of your better gifts
and your weary valour.
You served the fleeing and stood in calamity’s way.
When all seemed inhuman, you were human.
You honoured the oneness of humankind, the oneness of the earth.
You humbled us with the scale of your good will.
All we can say is, “Thank you.” It is not enough to say.
But if we did not say it, we would not be worthy of you.
You have shown us plainly what it is to be a citizen of a blazing world.
Thank you.

 

Since Rally for Relief, Tennis Australia has continued its bushfire relief efforts through the Rally as One initiative, a national program to support bushfire-affected communities.

Funds raised are used to help rebuild vital infrastructure in affected areas as well as deliver programs to support families and build resilience in kids.

Launched by the Australian Open and Australian Tennis Foundation, the initiative has already contributed $40,000 to rebuild facilities at the Stokes Bay Tennis Club and Community Hall on South Australia’s Kangaroo Island; almost half the island was devastated by the 2020 bushfires. 

The Rally as One initiative has also targeted its efforts towards the hard-hit communities of Yeppoon (QLD), Cobargo (NSW) and Mallacoota (Vic).

“Through the Rally as One program we look forward to helping these communities rebuild, and to contributing in a meaningful way to their health and wellbeing,” said Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley.