ACTOR and local resident Samuel Johnson OAM has been named the 2018 Victorian of the Year for his work raising millions of dollars for cancer research.
Mr Johnson was recognised for his tireless efforts promoting awareness for the insidious disease that took his sister Connie’s life last month. A tearful Mr Johnson was overcome with emotion when he received the award during a ceremony at Government House last Thursday, October 26.
“Connie and I always liked turning negatives into positives,” he said upon accepting the award.
“We enjoyed the process of trying to turn negatives into positives and I think that’s a common element in all of tonight’s nominees.
“I’ve got some plans that I’m working on and I’m trying to uphold my sister’s legacy.”
Struggling to speak through his emotions, the Gold Logie-winning actor said he would continue to put aside acting to focus on supporting cancer research. When his beloved big sister was diagnosed with terminal cancer, Mr Johnson made the promise of a lifetime – “to kick cancer to the kerb”.
He pledged to ride his unicycle around Australia to remind every woman to be breast aware. From this, Love Your Sister was born. In 2013 and 2014, Samuel travelled 15,465 kilometres, breaking the world record for the longest distance travelled on a unicycle and raising $1.4 million for the Garvan Research Foundation.
Love Your Sister has raised more than $7 million for cancer research, including $2.5 million in five-cent coins. In 2016, Mr Johnson retired from acting to focus on his sister’s charity organisation Love Your Sister to raise funds for cancer research.
The Governor of Victoria congratulated all the nominees and recipients, paying tribute to their achievements.
“I was delighted to have the opportunity to recognise some of our most outstanding Victorians, and their impressive achievements,” Her Excellency the Honourable Linda Dessau AC, Governor of Victoria said.