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PROTRACK » GENERAL » Western Bulldogs vice-president Susan Alberti pledges $12,000 cheque to Melissa Breen

Western Bulldogs vice-president Susan Alberti pledges $12,000 cheque to Melissa Breen

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Samantha Lane and Michael Gleeson

Random acts of kindness. Sometimes they're small, sometimes they're more substantial. And sometimes, as Australia's fastest woman Melissa Breen can now certify, they arrive in the form of a $12,000 cheque from a stranger.
That is the sum that has been pledged by a vice-president of an AFL club, Susan Alberti, to a 23-year-old sprinter who receives no funding from Athletics Australia despite her obvious talents.
''I wouldn't know her if I fell over her!'' Western Bulldogs director, and philanthropist, Alberti said of Breen on Thursday. But as the generous sponsor of sport explained, she was so moved by Breen's story she felt compelled to act.
Alberti was impressed when she heard the news on Sunday that Breen, racing in Canberra, had broken a national record over 100 metres that had stood for 20 years. It wasn't until four days later, however, that Alberti decided she would write Breen a cheque. The spirit moved after she read analysis, published in Fairfax Media, of the sprinter's lack of funding from the national athletics federation.
Never having met Breen, Alberti began her hunt for a conduit. ''Even if I had known her address and phone number, if I'd gone to her she would have thought she had some quack on the end of the line!'' she told The Age.
''But I want to write her a cheque. As long as it's on the condition - and I don't normally put conditions on things - but as long as it's used to enhance what she's doing, and to enable her to do things that she couldn't otherwise do.
''I'll get her started off on the $12,000. I'd be happy to put it in her hand immediately, hoping that others will follow suit and see the potential in this young woman.
''I don't understand what goes on at Athletics Australia, I've never been involved in it, but I just thought, this is not fair, she needs to be supported!''
On learning of Alberti's pledge, Breen was overcome. ''It is so overwhelming that someone I have never met would be prepared to do that. I am in shock,'' she said. ''It will be an incredible help, just in day-to-day life paying for physio or pilates sessions that come out of my pocket and to help pay for my coach Matt Beckenham who is working so hard to get me to the level.
''Obviously the money is wonderful, but it is the belief in me she has shown by making this sort of gesture that is so overwhelming for me.''
Under the funding levels available, Breen might have been entitled to receive $12,000 this year from Athletics Australia, which receives the bulk of its funding from the Australian Sports Commission. Such decisions, however, are made according to talent forecasting and when the dollars were last allocated, the 23-year-old missed the cut. That decision will likely change in April when funding from AA is reviewed

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