Ronaldo Mulitalo has broken down in tears recounting a harrowing story to his Cronulla Sharks teammates about why his charity is so important.
The young winger has taken on an ambassadorial role with Sydney homeless charity Stepping Stone House.
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In vision captured by Channel Nine, Mulitalo was asking his Cronulla teammates to chip in for the charity when he burst into tears.
Mulitalo was overcome with emotion when he recounted the story of a young girl who ran away from home after being repeatedly raped by her stepfather.
“She had been raped 15 times from her stepdad. She ran away from her family at a young age,” Mulitalo said.
“Stepping Stone House came over and took her in. She said when she ran away, she joined a family — Stepping Stone House had put her in a house.
“She left her shoes on every time she fell asleep. Reason for that - she was scared every day he was going to come back and rape her.
“All I’m trying to do, boys, is to try and take some kids off the street. I’ve been there.”
The 20-year-old told Danny Weidler of Channel Nine that he didn’t expect to get so emotional.
“I felt a ball of emotion just because I felt like I got hit with a reality check of where I’m at in my life,” Mulitalo said.
“I felt like I was standing in front of, not my mates, but a group of men that have the power to save a kid’s life.
“I didn’t know I was going to get that emotional, but that’s what it really meant to me.”
Ronaldo Mulitalo’s tough childhood
As a child, Mulitalo spent six years living in a double garage with his family in South Auckland.
“I’m sure other people speak about it too, there were times where we were robbed when we were sleeping,” he recently wrote for Exclusive Insight.
“Our belongings would be right next us as we slept being taken, we’d been robbed about four or five times and sometimes you’d sleep scared and as a kid you wouldn’t know how you’re going to sleep.”
His tough upbringing has made him all the more thankful for the opportunities rugby league has given him, and the fact he has a platform to give back.
“When I was younger, we did go through tough times,” he said.
“But I think, for me, that fact I can give back to kids who can’t help themselves. I do realise there are vulnerable kids as well. The stories hit home for me.
“I’d be upset with myself if I didn’t do something while I was here and had the platform.”
Mulitalo received $1500 in donations from teammates as part of his “Give 5, Get 5” campaign.
He is hoping to raise at $10,000 over the next month.