This past Saturday saw the St George Illawarra Dragons travel to Townsville to play the North Queensland Cowboys in a tight contest.

The Dragons came a long way to play this game, but so did Darren Hughes, a man from the Atherton Tablelands who has been a journey of his own for the last five or six years.

Darren, a former government worker and a keen sportsman was enjoying life with his wife and three children when, one day after eating lunch he struggled to get out of his chair.

Things quickly turned from bad to worse when he lapsed into a coma that lasted for two months.

When he woke, he had to learn to walk and talk again and - to this day - Darren is still on the road to recovery.

Eighteen months after experiencing symptoms for the first time, and after his neurologist ran numerous tests he underwent a painful muscle biopsy.

It confirmed mitochondrial myopathy, a type of mitochondrial disease.

For more information on this debilitating disease and how to contribute towards research, go to www.amdf.org,au

This terrible disease has not stopped Darren from being an amazing contributor to the communities of the Atherton Tablelands and through his grant writing abilities, he has been able to obtain more than $300000 in grants in the past year or two.

More than half of this has been for his beloved Atherton Roosters JRL Club, but he has also managed to assist in successful grant applications for two schools on the Tablelands.

Darren helped write the grant to get the new lights and the Atherton community came together at a venue that was improved through the efforts of Darren. 

Last weekend, Darren was joined at the game by his mum and oldest son Brady.

The Cowboys went out of their way to make this become a reality and cannot be thanked enough for terrific recognition of Darren's contribution.

It's hard not to think that if there were more people like Darren Hughes, with the resilience, the will to continue and be a valued contributor to society - even in the hardest of times - the world would be a much better place.

Postscript:

Unfortunately, Darren fell over getting out of the shower the morning after the game and broke his leg in two places.

He is currently in Townsville Hospital awaiting surgery, but is in good spirits and talking about some grants he is writing. 

*This article was submitted by QRL Northern Division (Region) Manager Scott Nosworthy about one of the people that make rugby league in his area a great game for all.