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Queensland Rugby League clubs will promote organ and tissue donation awareness next month when Intrust Super Cup players and referees proudly take the field in rainbow colours.

The initiative is part of the charity partnership between the QRL, Zaidee’s Rainbow Foundation and the James Ackerman Family Trust Fund.

QRL Managing Director Robert Moore and Head of Football Neil Wharton were on the Sunshine Coast today to officially launch the Zaidee’s Rainbow Foundation Round.

They were joined by James’ parents Michael and Sonya Ackerman, Zaidee’s Rainbow Foundation CEO Allan Turner (Zaidee’s proud dad), Falcons player Ryan Hansen and referee Tyson Brough.

Wharton said the rainbow round on the weekend of March 5-6 will be a terrific way to kick off the 2016 Intrust Super Cup premiership season.

Clubs contesting Round 1 FOGS Colts Challenge and Connell/Meninga Cup matches will be actively involved as well.

“The QRL is absolutely thrilled to be supporting the Zaidee’s Rainbow Foundation and of course the James Ackerman Family Trust on such a big weekend for our game,” Wharton said.

“With hundreds of players wearing Zaidee’s Rainbow Shoelaces and our referees donning special socks, Round 1 is going to be a great spectacle.

“Most importantly though, we hope the message spreads and more people become organ and tissue donors.”

Wharton said half of the proceeds from the sale of each box of shoelaces will be donated to the James Ackerman Family Trust.

“We’re so passionate about this project that we’ve elected to extend it beyond the opening week of the Intrust Super Cup with local QRL competitions across the state to get involved as well throughout the year,” he said.

While Zaidee and James never knew each other, their loving families share a special connection.

Both are comforted by the knowledge that Zaidee and James saved and improved the lives of many Australians via organ and tissue donation.

Zaidee Rose Alexander Turner – aged seven years and 22 days – died suddenly in 2004 from a burst blood vessel in her brain called a cerebral aneurysm. Zaidee’s parents, Kim and Allan, founded Zaidee’s Rainbow Foundation not long after.

At the time of Zaidee’s death, the Turner family had been registered organ and tissue donors for five years. As a result, Zaidee donated her organs and tissues at the Royal Children’s Hospital, as were her wishes at the time.

From this gift, the lives of seven people were improved and, in some cases, saved.

Mr Turner thanked the rugby league community for its support.

“This is a fantastic partnership that highlights the importance of organ and tissue donation to the wider community,” he said.

“The call of action is to all families to have a discussion about your wishes in becoming an organ and tissue donor. 

“So if you were ever in the same position as either Zaidee or James at the end of life, you would know now what those wishes would be to be an organ and tissue donor.

“Currently over 1550 people are waiting for a transplant in Australia, and many will die waiting unless more donor can be found.”

Visit the Zaidee’s Foundation website for more details.

  • Round 1 of the Intrust Super Cup season kicks off on March 5 when defending premiers the Ipswich Jets host the Norths Devils.

The Saturday afternoon match is the first of seven big games to be played across the highly-anticipated opening weekend of fixtures.

Sunday afternoon’s live Channel 9 television clash will feature the Sunshine Coast Falcons and Northern Pride.

Melbourne's NYC Thunderbolts will open the season at Sunshine Coast Stadium, their new home, this Sunday at 2.30pm against St-George Illawarra.

It will be the second game of Sunday’s Sunshine Coast double-header with Storm feeder side the Falcons also kicking off their season against Northern pride at 12.30pm.

Storm Queensland-based members will have free entry on the day with activities such as a jumping castle and face painting available for the kids to enjoy.

Fans can also click here to purchase tickets.

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Melbourne Storm respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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