WHEN Neale Daniher pushes older brother Terry down a slide and into a pool of icy water at the MCG, it will be a moment three years in the making.
The annual Big Freeze at the 'G, which raises money for Motor Neurone Disease research at the Queen's Birthday blockbuster, hasn't happened in front of an MCG crowd since 2019 amid the coronavirus pandemic.
For the Daniher family, the latest chapter of Neale's fight against "the beast" of MND is set to be a special occasion.
"It is really incredible to have it back at the MCG," daughter Bec Daniher said.
"The last few years have been difficult but we know that everyone's rallied behind us.
"To be standing on the stage with Dad is going to be a moment that I will cherish for a very long time.
"To have him a part of the march, to have him there, pushing down the sliders, pushing down his oldest brother, I know he's very excited.
"There's going to be a moment in time where as a family, we're going to stop and take it all in because we never know how many more we have.
"So it's going to be very, very special and we can't wait to share it with everyone on the day."
The build-up has been overshadowed by Melbourne pair Steven May and Jake Melksham's restaurant fight, while the Demons have lost two on the bounce ahead of facing Collingwood.
But Melbourne hopes the Big Freeze, featuring the likes of Ash Barty, Justin Langer and Jakara Anthony, can take centre stage.
"This is a cause that transcends Melbourne and Collingwood," Demon Angus Brayshaw said.
"So hopefully that attracts all football fans far and wide and makes it a really special day."
Collingwood's Nathan Murphy was in his second year when Murray Swinton, a former firefighter who suffered the disease, spent time around the club in 2018.
"Seeing the effect that we had on him and his family and Bucks going down the slide in the fireman outfit, that's probably when it hit me, how big this day is and how special it is, that two teams can come together through the amazing work that Neale Daniher is doing," Murphy said.
"There's still a long way to go, of course, but it's just getting bigger and bigger and more special. We're hearing more stories from people.
"It's like Anzac Day - it's a game of football, but we're marking something a lot bigger, because football is just a game and this is a battle of life.
"We get to live our dream on the biggest stage and have an influence with that - we're extremely lucky people."
The Victorian government has donated $250,000 to help the FightMND foundation find a cure for motor neurone disease.
Over the past eight years, FightMND has raised more than $55 million for research into the condition through its annual Queen's Birthday Big Freeze event at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
The Victorian government stumped up its cash donation to help FightMND reach its target of $2 million by half-time of Monday's AFL match between Melbourne and Collingwood.
The donation adds to $6 million previously donated by the government to the Big Freeze and FightMND.
"It’s hard to think of a more inspiring person than Neale Daniher," Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said in a statement on Monday.
"The work he has done for others when faced with a devastating diagnosis is truly remarkable.
"We’re proud to support Neale’s fight. Every day it brings us closer to finding a cure to this terrible disease."