He was one of the ultimate club men of rugby league who never shied away from a challenge playing 238 games for Penrith Panthers.
Now Royce (Simmo) Simmons is embarking on the biggest challenge of his life as he tackles dementia. And just like back in the days when he spilt blood, sweat and tears for his beloved rugby league club, Royce Simmons is digging deep to find a way to help others.
The Panthers’ legend has formed a registered charity, Royce’s Big Walk, that aims to raise funds for dementia research and awareness. Royce’s Big Walk is a 300km trek from his hometown of Gooloogong to Penrith.
Westfund Health Insurance, based in Lithgow NSW, has donated $5,000 to the cause, and is also hosting a BBQ lunch and Q&A at its head office to help raise even more funds. Royce and his guest walkers Chris Lawrence, Robbie Farah and Neil Paine will be attending the event on Tuesday 24 May and will be answering questions at the Q&A session MC’d by 2LT’s Pete Watson.
Westfund CEO Mark Genovese said the fund is a long-term sponsor of the club Royce loves and is always looking at ways to support regional communities.
“Our origins are in regional Australia where, for over a century, we have a demonstrated history of not only supporting the health of our members, but also that of the communities we serve.
“When we heard about Royce’s Big Walk, we wanted to contribute in a meaningful way. He is a legend in the local community and what he is doing to help others who are going through a similar challenge is inspirational.
“This walk is typical of the man he is. Rather than keeping his diagnosis of Alzheimer’s private, Simmo wants to use his diagnosis to help enhance the lives of others, and their families, impacted by this insidious disease”.
Westfund Community Development Manager Lisa Gibson said Royce was part of the fabric of the local community and the walk is a great example of how locals come together and support each other during hard times.
“This walk typifies what this community and other regional communities like it are all about
“To do what Simmo is attempting now after everything he has been through is just incredible,” Ms Gibson said.
“Simmo’s charity has already raised over $100,000. The support he is receiving from the local region just highlights how strong and connected this community is.
“We are delighted to be able to support Royce in helping raise vital funds for dementia research and awareness.”
Westfund Heath Insurance is a not-for-profit fund with over 110,000 members Australia-wide. Westfund continue to look for ways that they can contribute meaningfully to their communities, building on their long history of giving back and community involvement to ensure that they’re leading by example and driving real change.