When Benalla’s Tyler Brodie lost his best friend to suicide, he didn’t realise it would launch him into what is now an eight-year journey advocating and fundraising for men’s mental health.
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“When I lost my best mate, he was like my brother, that hit me pretty hard,” Mr Brodie said.
“I thought, what can I do? So, I decided to go to counselling, and the counsellor I saw was absolutely awesome.
“He was actually growing a mo for Movember, and he talked to me about the cause.”
That conversation sparked what was to be years of fundraising for Movember by Mr Brodie, and from that, ‘T-BRO’s Movember’ was born.
In 2015, the then 21-year-old Benalla local began his Movember cause by growing a moustache and raising small funds.
The following year, fundraising progressed to a sausage sizzle outside the Benalla Woolworths, and as time went on, T-BRO’s Movember kept getting bigger.
However, when COVID-19 hit in early 2020, community members were isolated in their homes, so Mr Brodie had to get creative with fundraising ideas.
Turns out, it was just the push he needed to get the ball rolling even further.
“As weird as it is, I think COVID was the best thing to happen to my Movember because it gave me the kickstart to say let’s do a raffle for the whole month,” he said.
“I also decided to do merch. I did stubby holders because I work at the bottle shop, and when you’re having a drink with your mates and they see T-BRO’s Movember on it, it’s a conversation starter.
“That goes for the shirts and hats too.”
From mates to family and even work colleagues, Mr Brodie has acquired a well-established team T-BRO, to share the message and fundraise for Movember.
“Anyone who buys a hat, shirt, stubby holder, or raffle ticket, you’re part of team T-BRO,” he said.
Through years of fundraising, Mr Brodie has created a name for himself as a Movember advocate, which, in turn, has sparked conversations with people about mental health and suicide.
“I’ll have people telling me stories, and I’d say, man, I’ve been through it – this is the reason why I’ve started,” he said.
“I would just say, I’m here to listen and I’m happy to help out.
“I want to be part of the solution and remove the stigma around mental health.
“There’s definitely a need (in raising awareness about men’s mental health), but there’s more need for men to come out and say hey, look, I’m struggling a bit.”
For Mr Brodie, growing the mo is more than an easy task – he said it runs in the family.
“It’s like a little joke in our family that I come from a good line of mo growers; it only takes me a week,” Mr Brodie said.
“I thank my genetics from my Pop ‘Sargie’ and Dad ‘Brodes’.
“Pop’s had a mo all his life, Dad has had a mo every year, and Conor, my younger brother, grows a mo as well in support of me.”
Mr Brodie has already surpassed last year’s fundraising efforts of $2650.
After a herculean effort from Friday to Sunday last week saw the Rose City man raise $2023 in the short period of time, T-Bro has fundraised $2723, with more donations expected to roll in through the end of November.
Over eight years, Mr Brodie has raised close to $14,000 for Movember.
Throughout the month, Mr Brodie has sold merchandise and raffle tickets across several parts of the region.
You may have seen him outside the Benalla Woolworths on November 10 and 11, where he could be found from 8am to 8pm selling raffle tickets and having a chat with anyone and everyone about the cause.
Mr Brodie could also be found at the Garden Markets during the Benalla festival.
“The day in the gardens was absolutely unreal,” Mr Brodie said.
“I was also out the front of the Benalla Bushrangers change-rooms as well. I wanted to do it last year, and of course, with the floods (I couldn’t).
“I messaged Amanda Charles at (Benalla) Rotary (Club) who organises it. So I rocked up, and she said, ‘Go wherever you want, I’ll come find you when I’m finished’.
“She’s donated to me throughout the years, so a big massive thanks to her.”
Mr Brodie sold out of his stubby holders at the Benalla market and has had to order a new batch.
Raffle ticket prizes up for grabs include the major prize of a Masport mower from Rose City Mowers, followed by a $200 voucher from Better Beer.
Remaining prizes include vouchers from Intersport Shepparton, BWS Shepparton East, Euro Garage Shepparton East and Burkes Bakery.
Mr Brodie will be at the Benalla Bowls Club on November 24 at the members’ night, selling raffle tickets and merchandise.
Tickets are available at Rose City Mowers and Terry White ChemMart in Benalla and Intersport Shepparton.
The support of the Benalla community has blown away Mr Brodie, and he would like to thank everyone who has donated to the fundraiser so far.
“I had a little boy come up to me and say, ‘You’re a hero’.
“I’m not a hero, I’m just a typical Aussie bloke who wants to remove the stigma around the black dog and just show everyone that it’s okay to not be okay.”
For further details on Mr Brodie’s raffle ticket and merchandise sales during November, message his Facebook and Instagram @TylerBrodie23
To donate to Tyler Brodie’s Movember online, visit https://tinyurl.com/39fzfsun
• If you or anyone you know requires crisis support, contact Accessline on 1800 800 944, Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14, BeyondBlue on 1300 224 636 or Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800.