It was with great excitement that the Hughes family sat down to watch the first episode of Channel Ten reality show I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here. Not long before this Mark had received a phone call from Paul letting him know that he was heading to the African Jungle with the hope of winning the $100,000 prize money for his chosen charity, the Mark Hughes Foundation.
This was the biggest chance at National publicity that MHF had received and a small but dedicated team jumped at the chance to support Chief. Every time he featured on the show our social media following would grow and visits to the MHF website would skyrocket to never before seen figures. It was a winning combination for MHF and brain cancer awareness.
Texting, Facebook and Twitter became a blur of #CelebPaul. There were pictures of Chief in his jungle hat everywhere.
It makes the task at hand a lot easier when Chief is so easy to love watching. He made us cringe at his ostrich tucker trial, laugh hysterically while he was having flesh and insects dropped on him while having to read his Wikipedia page (Sticki Wiki challenge), hold our breath while he challenged Brendan to a tug-of-war over a cliff edge, be excited like a kid at Christmas when the Irwin family arrived for a visit and gasp in horror as he managed to drink a foul concoction for the Hipster Horror trial.
MHF didn’t have the largest social media following. Chief didn’t even have a social media account until the show started! We didn’t have the most well-known celebrity. But we did have the most dedicated team and supporters.
A superstar effort on the show saw Chief come in second to winner Brendan Fevola. There was no time for disappointment in not winning the prize money with Brendan quickly announcing that he would donate half of his winnings on behalf of the Shane Warne Foundation - $50,000 to the Mark Hughes Foundation. What an amazing gesture from Brendan Fevola.
The six weeks of the program were truly an amazing experience for all involved and showed again what our team, supporters and community can do when we come together to tackle brain cancer.
Chief lost a staggering 14kgs during his time in the Jungle, however he has said that is was one of the most amazing experiences of his life. Since coming out of the Jungle he has been overwhelmed with the amount of support for both himself and the foundation.