Fremantle Dockers make plans to celebrate Aaron Sandilands and family for fundraising efforts

Headshot of Eliza Reilly
Eliza ReillyThe West Australian
Aaron Sandilands of the Dockers thanks the fans on his lap of honour during the 2019 AFL round 22 match between the Fremantle Dockers and the Essendon Bombers.
Camera IconAaron Sandilands of the Dockers thanks the fans on his lap of honour during the 2019 AFL round 22 match between the Fremantle Dockers and the Essendon Bombers. Credit: Daniel Carson/AFL Photos/Getty Images

Fremantle Football Club are making plans to honour former Docker Aaron Sandilands and his family at the club’s 20th Starlight Purple Haze Game this season as his daughter Sloane continues to recover from an internal infection.

Fremantle chief executive officer Simon Garlick has encouraged members to throw their support behind the former ruckman as he prepares to take on the Rottnest Channel Swim and raise funds for the Starlight Children’s Foundation.

Sandilands was an ambassador for the charity during his time at the club but experienced their work firsthand when his daughter Sloane fell ill in March last year, an infection shutting down her organs.

The nine-year-old spent three months in hospital and 10 days in an induced coma but began to look forward to visits from Captain Starlight, asking when they would come, what games they would bring or which balloon animals they would make.

Sloane also had to learn how to walk again after spending more than a month in intensive care but has recently ditched her crutches and is set to rejoin classmates for the start of Year 4 at Attadale Primary School.

In 2021, Jen and Aaron Sandilands’ world turned upside down when their daughter, Sloane battled a horrifying staph infection, which left her hospitalised and unable to walk for months.
Camera IconSloane had to learn how to walk again after spending more than a month in intensive care but has recently ditched her crutches. Credit: Unknown/Supplied

Sandilands, who played 272 games for Fremantle, will complete the swim on February 26 supported by fellow former Dockers Lee Spurr, Shaun McManus and friends Sam and Mel Gill in Sloane’s honour.

“It’s fantastic to see what Aaron, Jenny and the whole Sandilands family are doing to raise funds for the Starlight Children’s Foundation,” Garlick said.

“Starlight are a principal partner of Fremantle and we have a longstanding relationship going back to 2003, with Aaron on board as an ambassador from the start.

“Aaron and Jenny’s daughter Sloane showed incredible toughness and bravery as she battled and survived a serious infection last year and it’s heartwarming to hear about how the Starlight Children’s Foundation supported the whole family throughout.

Fremantle Dockers training at Fremantle Oval. Shaun Mcmanus.   Pic by Trevor Collens  18 Dec 2007
Camera IconSandilands will be supported by fellow former Dockers Shaun McManus. Credit: Trevor Collens/WA News

“Aaron has always shown incredible selflessness throughout his 271-game career, as well as in his time as a ruck coach, and we are proud to once again see him giving back with this fundraising swim to Rottnest.

“We encourage all of our members and supporters to throw their support behind the swim and we look forward to acknowledging these efforts at our 20th Starlight Purple Haze Game this season.”

Fremantle senior coach Justin Longmuir also urged the football community to support Sandilands and his family.

“We’re lucky to have them. Glad to hear Sloane is on the road to recovery,” the coach wrote on Twitter.

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