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'It humbles you': Keppie's joy working in disability sector

Sean Keppie regularly devotes free time to working with various disability support services and the Manly prop believes he is always richer for the experience.

"It's that feeling you get when you help someone achieve little goals, especially for what I do with the kids with disabilities," Keppie said.

"It makes you feel good, just knowing that you made them happy ... It just makes you look at life a different way. It humbles you."

The 23-year-old, who is heavily involved in Sea Eagles programs, has been recognised with a nomination for the NRL's esteemed Ken Stephen Medal, proudly brought to you by Your Local Club.

Keppie is passionate about his impact in the disability sector, holding roles with organisations like What Ability, Sunnyfield Disability Services and Heroes with Ability outside of his club commitments.

"Originally, I was working at a school in Gladesville - Giant Steps - with my friend Steve Dresler when I was at Parra," Keppie said.

Dresler, once a promising Eels prospect who was forced to retire due to injury, then founded What Ability, of which he is the CEO.

"He just said to me, 'I know you love doing it mate, do you want to come and join us?' And I said yes, sure," Keppie said.

"I do that work with him. And then I actually contacted Sunnyfield because I kind of jumped away from [disability work] because I started playing more [NRL] games and stuff, but I really did miss it.

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"I just really wanted to get out there again and start helping out wherever I could. Luckily, they took me on and let me help.

"At Sunnyfield, I pass a ball around with everyone, play some games, make them have fun, because they're a working space.

"In their lunch break, free time, that's when I go there and have a bit of fun with them. There are a lot of Manly fans there, so they love it."

He has formed tight relationships with many program participants as he strives to provide them with positive memories.

"Every time you go there, they know everything about you. Whatever you tell them, it sticks. They're genuine people and if you put a smile on their face, they’ll remember it forever," he said.

"I recently jumped on Zoom with Heroes with Ability. They're kind of the same as What Ability, but they do more the sports side of things.

"They got on a Zoom call with me and I talked to all the families that were stuck and couldn't come out.

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"It just makes me feel so lucky for where I am and what I have available to me and where I am in life."

The front-rower has also enjoyed visiting Northern Beaches primary schools through the Sea Eagles School Blitz as well attending fan events and helping to run junior rugby league clinics.

"[Kids] look up to us so much, so just knowing that I can go there and make them happy or change the way that they think a bit more, it's a good feeling," said Keppie, who has played 38 NRL matches.

If Keppie wins the fan vote, which will decide one of four Ken Stephen Medal finalists and closes on August 8, he will net a $3500 cash prize for his junior club, the Narellan Jets.

"I love the Narellan Jets, I've played there since I was four. It would mean a lot to me to give back to my home club," he said.

As for potentially taking out the Ken Stephen Medal, Keppie said: "It would honestly mean everything to me.

"I pride myself on helping other people out and to be recognised for something like that is just amazing."

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Manly Warringah Sea Eagles respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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