Hero Day saw children, celebrities and superheroes descend on the Melbourne Market for fundraising event

Fresh produce suppliers at the Melbourne wholesale market have dug deep and raised A$50,000 to support Hero For HeartKids, a cause in support of children living with congenital heart disease.

Hero Day was held in the early hours on 29 June in the middle of the Melbourne Market in an area specially set up for the fundraising event. The Melbourne Market usually does not permit children on-site; however, the special event included the opportunity for market workers to bring their children to work. 

The crowd was treated to entertainment that included AFL stars, celebrity guests, superhero appearances, a lively auction and more.

Richmond Football Club’s Jack Riewoldt was a star attraction of the morning, arriving well before dawn to throw his support behind the cause. Riewoldt also paid tribute to the hard work of the Melbourne Market community in supplying Victorians with fresh fruit and vegetables.

“It’s been good fun. It’s school holidays, so a lot of kids running around, feels like a fresh fruit Christmas, everyone’s got a bit of a skip in their step,” said Riewoldt.

“We’re very lucky to have hard-working people that come out here and apply their trade at a very early time when a lot of us are still sleeping.”

Peter Tuohey, chairperson of the Melbourne Market Authority, said the event brought the Melbourne Market community together.

“After two years of Covid restrictions, this special school holiday event meant market users could bring their children to see the sights and sounds of the Melbourne Market,” said Tuohey.

“It was inspiring for kids to see their parents in action, as we recognised them as heroes who helped keep Victorians supplied with fresh produce during the challenges of the pandemic.”

Tony Siciliano of wholesaler and grower, VF Siciliano & Sons, was a driving force in putting the event together and thanked all those who had contributed.

“It’s a great community here in the market; everyone’s been very generous. It’s all about families, it’s all about helping each other; we’re proud to get behind HeartKids,” said Siciliano.

Norman Hutton, Victorian State Manager for HeartKids recognised the efforts Melbourne wholesale market undertook during the pandemic to supply the state with fresh fruit and vegetables.

“The fresh produce industry has been the unsung heroes as they faced many challenges over the past few years. They have always shown resilience, even today as they currently grapple with stock shortages and inflationary pressures. It has demonstrated to our HeartKids community that adversity occurs in various forms and can be overcome through perseverance,” said Hutton.

“Those affected by childhood heart disease fight their own battle for survival and rely on the many support services that HeartKids provides. Every day in Australia there are eight children born with a heart defect, which means there is a family every three hours whose life will change in a heartbeat, and sadly four lives will be lost each week.”