Emotional ceremony honours Moranbah teen – taken too soon
A sea of pink and blue washed over the Moranbah Miners football field on Friday, when more than 1000 community members paid respects to Ethan James Stevens, a young Moranbah boy who lost his battle with Leukaemia just days before his 14th birthday.
A passionate sportsman with a big heart, he has been remembered as a “super cheeky” and “really talented” young boy, who continued fighting until the end.
Ethan was diagnosed with T-All Leukaemia and a large tumour in his chest on December 25 and immediately started four weeks of intense chemotherapy.
While the chemo succeeded in ridding his body of cancer, he was rushed to the ICU on January 22 when complications arose.
After months of fighting, Ethan died on March 3, just three days before his 14th birthday.
“He was fighting really hard and just took it in his stride,” his aunty Jackie Harms told CQ News.
“He didn’t complain, he just said ‘Right, what have I got to do to get back to footy in September?’.”
Ethan’s dream was to play for the North Queensland Cowboys in the NRL, a goal he had been completely dedicated to through training hard and eating well.
“Everyone knew how dedicated he was,” Mrs Harms said.
“He was always down the club for hours on end, just kicking and kicking or running and training.
“He was always thinking about football, just 24 hours a day.”
Throughout treatment he kept up physio, did what exercise he was allowed and stayed conditioned, doing everything he could to get back to the footy field.
“Even when he went back to hospital and was really sick, he was working as hard as he could to heal,” Mrs Harms said.
From December to March, the Central Queensland community continued to send messages of support and encouragement.
Ethan was stoked when several NRL players sent him personal messages and jerseys, encouraging him to “stay in the fight”.
He was smiling from ear to ear when his idol Johnathan Thurston contacted him among other players from the Cowboys, Storm, Broncos, Tigers, Knights and more.
“He got a really big kick out of that,” Mrs Harms said.
“That was pretty exciting and made him feel really special.
“He really enjoyed it, the banter and the talk, and he had the biggest smile on his face.”
Mrs Harms said Ethan was super cheeky, always looked after people he loved and was an incredibly loyal friend, even to people he didn’t know.
A heartfelt ceremony was held for Ethan at the Moranbah Miners Leagues Club on Friday, March 19.
More than 1000 guests were in attendance, wearing pink, North QLD Cowboys and Moranbah Miners team colours.
Family members looked back on all the great memories that were shared and some of Ethan’s greatest achievements, including being nationally recognised for BMX, ranked third in Australia in his age group and his recent acceptance into the Brisbane Broncos Elite Player Development Program.
A recording of Ethan’s heartbeat echoed through the grounds as family members carried his casket through a guard of honour created by guests between the two goalposts.
Moranbah Miners Leagues Club president Peter Henderson said Ethan was a “really respected, much loved” member of the football community.
He said the entire club had been rocked by the loss of their teammate, but continued to do all they could for his family.
“Ethan’s young team (U14s) is struggling a little bit, but they’ve been fantastic, helping and reaching out to the family and doing whatever they can,” he said.
The A-grade side, who Ethan spent a lot of time with, will wear custom jerseys featuring his name for the rest of the season.
In conjunction with Magpies Junior Rugby League, Mr Henderson said a bench seat was being made and installed at the Moranbah Miners gym, dedicated to Ethan.
“It’s where Ethan spent a lot of his time,” he said.
“It will just be somewhere that people will look and his memory will never leave.”
Mr Henderson said the club was also looking at more ways to ensure Ethan was “on the sidelines every week”.
Ethan’s family would like to thank everyone for their support over the past few months, especially the “overwhelming support” in the organisation of the funeral to honour their cheeky, kind-hearted boy.