He has been an inspiration to many, a local sporting hero undoubtedly tough on the footy field and undeniably even braver, tackling a medical condition that threatened to take his life.
In 2013 Mark Hughes was told he had Grade 3 high-grade Oligoastrocytoma, which he describes as a diagnosis which meant, in non-medical terms, that he was in for the fight of his life.
It took brain surgery, 33 radiation sessions and months of ongoing chemotherapy, but Mark thankfully continues to win his war on brain cancer.
But while he is committed to making the most of the chance he has been given, the diagnosis he received five years ago has changed Mark's life forever.
"My life has certainly changed. I'm doing well now and I still get scans every four months, but the battle continues. You're never completely out of the woods with something like this.
"My life has certainly changed. I'm doing well now and still get scans every four months, but the battle continues. You're never completely out of the woods with something like this..."
Determined to make a difference, in the aftermath of his diagnosis Mark and his wife Kirralee founded the Mark Hughes Foundation, an organisation dedicated to raising funds and awareness for brain cancer, the leading cause of cancer death in both children and adults under 40 years old in Australia.
"Creating the foundation gave my wife and I focus and purpose. It allowed us to find positivity in the situation," he says.
"Due to my background with the Newcastle Knights I had been involved in a lot of charities over the years and I was getting to the point where I wanted to focus on charity work. Unfortunately for me, I ended up in this situation but my wife and I knew we had to get out there and find help for everyone diagnosed with brain cancer."
Since its beginning, the Mark Hughes Foundation has so far raised around $9 million for the cause by hosting a variety of annual fundraising events including Beanies for Brain Cancer, which this year raised $3.5 million, treks to Everest Base Camp, Kokoda and Borneo, and the Magic Ball to be held this Saturday night, 18 August and proudly sponsored by the Australian Hotels Association (AHA) Newcastle Hunter.
"We usually raise about $200,000 from the Magic Ball and we couldn't do that without support, especially from the AHA who have been there from the start," he says.
"I've known Rolly de With for a long, long time and I've got to know a lot of hoteliers in the Hunter through different events and activities and they're all great people.
"This partnership is a really great fit for the foundation because local hoteliers are out there sponsoring sports teams, netball, football, soccer, and if someone hits hard times they'll often put on a fundraiser for them. They do a lot of great stuff and I really like the fact this gets magnified when they support us as sponsors because hotels do so many things for our community."
"Our local hoteliers are sponsoring local sports teams, netball, football soccer, and if someone hits hard time they'll often put on a fundraiser for them, they do a lot of great stuff in our community..."
The star-studded gala will be attended by numerous famous faces, including sporting stars Andrew Johns, Adam MacDougall, Paul Harragon and Kurt Gidley.
Images courtesy of markhughesfoundation.com.au