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Olivia Newton-John has paid tribute to Aussie Rules legend and philanthropist Jim Stynes, who passed away from cancer this week.

“I am extremely saddened to hear about the passing of my dear mate, Jim Stynes,” she wrote on Facebook. “Though we didn’t know each other long, we formed a close bond and I admired his courageous spirit and passion for life. I have never met anyone so open and so brave – he truly touched my life.”

Born in Ireland, Stynes was one of Australian Rules Football’s most celebrated players, and rose to chairman of the Melbourne Football Club in 2008. He co-founded the Reach Foundation, a charity that “believes that every young person should have the support and self-belief they need to fulfill their potential and dare to dream. Reach achieves this by creating safe and supportive spaces where teenagers can share stories and experiences honestly. A place where they can increase their self-belief, discover who they are and recognise that they’re not alone.”

“Jim’s determination to make a difference for others strengthens my resolve even more to secure the funding for additional research that will end cancer,” said Olivia. “I really cared about Jim – he fought like the warrior he was and my heart goes out to his beautiful wife Sam and their two children. I will miss my friend.”

Find out more about the Reach Foundation here.

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