A Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks superfan had an unforgettable birthday after being surprised by one of his favorite rugby league legends.
Brendan Doran woke up on Sunday for his 52nd birthday celebrations, thinking he was just going to have lunch with his family. Cronulla’s club didn’t know he was about to receive a visit from former Sharks premiership captain Paul Gallen.
Stream every match of every round of the 2022 NRL Telstra Premiership season live and without commercial breaks while playing on Kayo. New to Kayo? Start your free trial now>
In 2019, Brendan, then 50, suffered a “catastrophic” stroke while on vacation in Thailand, causing damage to the frontal lobe of his brain.
Before the stroke, the family described Brendan as “the epitome of Cronulla,” a surfing champion, electrical engineer, model and footy player.
But now they say it is often unrecognizable.
“We discussed the end of life three times,” said Brendan’s sister, Jenny Doran, who detailed the times when doctors told her family that Brendan probably wouldn’t make it.
After the stroke, Cronulla’s man developed juvenile-onset vascular dementia due to limited blood supply to the brain along with a battle with type 1 diabetes.
Brendan spent his 50th birthday at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, where he stayed for six months, and traveled in and out before he could finally move into a unit in Sutherland County on his 51st birthday.
The move, as well as the surprise birthday meeting, was organized by Kelly Spooner, Director of Brendan’s NDIS service provider, Two Summers, along with his team based in Sutherland County.
Ms. Doran thanked Two Summers for “taking him (Brendan) when no one else could, supporting him in some pretty tough difficulties and arranging a surprise visit from Paul.”
“My brother is the biggest Sharks fan ever and Kelly from Two Summers knew exactly how to cheer him up after a pretty torrid time in the hospital,” he said.
“What these girls have managed to do is not just give him some dignity, but put him in a family environment, they really care about him, they are fantastic.”
Ms. Doran described the moment when Brendan and the family received the most amazing knock on their front door on the day of the birthday party.
“I got a call from Kelly saying she wanted to leave Brendan with a surprise birthday present,” she said.
“We were sitting at the table, Brendan facing the door, and I was about to serve tomato soup in bowls for lunch when we heard a knock on the door.”
Doran explained that Spooner entered the room first to greet Brendan, only to be closely followed by the icon Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks, Gallen.
“We went, ‘Oh my god, it’s Paul Gallen,'” he said.
“Brendan is the biggest Sharks fan ever, always has been, he’s a huge fan, almost to the point of going crazy.”
To highlight the intensity of Brendan’s obsession with sharks, Ms. Doran told news.com.au that she had a “sleeve-like” tattoo on her calf that Brendan had on the leg of a Cronulla flag, but now he was fading from Brendan’s severe leg infection.
“The look on his face when he realized that Paul Gallen was there is priceless,” he said.
“He knew right away it was him.
“If I had known that Paul was coming I would have cleaned the house, we had no idea.
“This is the cruelty of this dementia, Brendan sat down with Paul Gallen talking about the details of the match shot for shot. He wasn’t always in the right era, but Paul Gallen is the most beautiful human being, he never corrected him, he was making Brendan talk in such a normal way and I was crying. If he died right now, this would be his dream come true.
“None of us could believe it, it was so stunning. “You can’t make up this bullshit. It was a wonderful surprise ”.
Ms. Doran also thanked the NRL icon for taking the time to make Brendan’s birthday memorable, especially since Sunday was also Father’s Day.
“Paul Gallen, what a gentleman, went above and beyond,” he said.
“Paul Gallen, our family thanks you from the bottom of their hearts. ️You are a true gentleman, who made this birthday boy smile and participate in meaningful and engaging conversations. It is still in turmoil. “
#Paul #Gallens #heartwarming #act #diehard #Sharks #fan #torrid #time