In 2022, at the age of just 61, Penrith Panthers’ rugby league legend Royce Simmons announced that he had been diagnosed with Dementia.
The diagnosis sent shock waves through the rugby league and broader community. However, Royce wasted no time at all, throwing himself behind the “Big Walk” to raise money for Dementia Australia to fund further research.
“I’ve got dementia, but not too bad at the moment, I’m just trying to make people aware of how bad dementia is,” said Royce.
“I don’t think people realise how bad it is, over 400,000 people are currently living with dementia in Australia and experts say that is expected to double in the next few years.”
Royce has gathered a huge amount of support from the rugby league community that he was a part of for decades and has many supporters on board sponsoring the walk.
Royces “Big Walk” kicks off on Tuesday, 18th April in Dubbo. He will travel through Parkes on Thursday, 20th April, and is scheduled to arrive in Bathurst on Saturday, 29th of April where the Panthers Vs Wests Tigers will be playing for the Royce Simmons Cup.
Royce has called upon fellow footy and sporting legends to join him on his walk through regional towns including Parkes and Eugowra. Part of Royces initiative is for the junior footy clubs in the towns they pass through to utilise the opportunity to raise funds for their own clubs, in addition to helping Royce raise money for Dementia Australia
Royce went on to explain, “We organise and supply a couple of guest speakers for the local fundraisers, we supply some memorabilia for the auctions and we are happy that it helps raise money for Dementia Australia and local junior footy.”
Local President of the Parkes Marist Junior Rugby League Club, Andrew Thomas spoke to The Forbes & Parkes Phoenix about why this is such an important fundraising event for people to get behind. “Royce is so driven by junior league and grassroots football, they’ve asked the clubs to hold an event and we have decided to hold a fundraising dinner.”
Royce’s Big Walk, and the Fundraiser to coincide with his walk, will be on Thursday, 20th April. The Fundraiser will be held at the Parkes Services Club and tickets will be $35 each, which will include dinner. On the night there will be a number of guest speakers, an auction, raffle, and lucky door prizes.
The Parkes Marist Junior Rugby League Club will put any funds that they receive from the “Big Walk” fundraising event towards upgrading the outdated facilities.
“We are pushing for a new grandstand, that’s the biggest ticket item that we are working towards. Parkes Council has been great, they funded a $76,000 Master Plan that was designed by an architect from Newcastle. He has submitted a design that has already been approved and its sitting there ready to go once we find enough funding. It’s up to us to be the driving force to make it happen,” said Andrew Thomas.