Team IHMRI running at Go Commando.

Supporters of MND research work up a sweat at fundraising boot camp with Commando Steve

The target was to raise $5,000 for the motor neurone disease (MND) research of Professor Justin Yerbury at IHMRI.

To achieve the target, 200 people had to sign up for a challenging fitness boot camp at the University of Wollongong (UOW) with Commando Steve from The Biggest Loser TV show.

The result? 

Go Commando for MND Research was a sell-out event on Saturday 6 April, raising almost $6,000 for vital MND research. Almost every person who registered turned up.

The fundraiser was the brainstorm of UNIActive’s head of sports and fitness, Tony Wrightson, who was inspired after seeing the ABC Australian Story documentary, The Enemy Within, featuring Professor Justin Yerbury and his family.

Tony Wrightson contacted the former Biggest Loser trainer, Steve Willis, also known as Commando Steve, and asked him to donate his time to support MND research at IHMRI.

“I think it is extremely important to raise awareness of MND and the research being done to try to find a cure,” said Mr Willis.

“Being active and healthy is one of our greatest tools to prevent disease, so to combine awareness through exercise with fundraising for research is a great idea, and I was happy to donate my time for the event.”

Staff at UNIActive say it was not hard to rally numbers for the fundraiser.

“We really wanted to show our support for Professor Yerbury and his research and everyone was so positive about getting on board,” said Rachel Ayre from UNIActive.

She says the feedback has been really positive and they haven’t ruled out hosting another event.

“There was a great sense of community around this event and everyone really seemed to enjoy the workout on the day.  We’re already thinking about what we can do next to continue to support Professor Yerbury and his research.”

Participants were put through their paces by Commando Steve, running, lifting and jumping their way through the one-hour class, which was followed by a healthy breakfast. Team IHMRI was there, some clad in tu-tus!

Thank you

IHMRI extends our warmest thanks to everyone involved in the logistics, planning and organisation of the boot camp. It was a great privilege to be involved.

IHMRI would also like to thank all the researchers and operations staff who helped make this such a fun and special day. 

  • Monique Bax
  • Anuja Roy Bony
  • Dzung Do-Ha
  • Dr Jody Gorman and family
  • Natalie Farrawell
  • Lyndel Hayes
  • Dr Diane Ly
  • Dr Jean Marshall
  • Louise Negline
  • Sandeep Satapathy
  • Clinical Associate Professor Natalie Smith
  • Janine Tehovnik

Photo gallery

Photos by Jake Lapham.

Related stories

Associate Professor Justin Yerbury on ABC’s Australian Story

Media coverage


Illawarra Mercury

6 April 2019: Commando Steve helps Dr Justin Yerbury boot MND with a fundraising workout at UOW on Saturday to kick off the weekend

Media contact

Louise Negline, Communications Coordinator

t: 4221 4702

m: 0417 044 867


Top photo: Dr Jean Marshall, Janine Tehovnik, Louise Negline, Anuja Roy Bony., Sandeep Satapathy, Dzung Do-Ha, Commando Steve, Dr Diane Ly, Natalie Farrawell, Monique Bax, Dr Natalie Smith, Dr Jody Gorman and family.

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