When Penrith Panthers’ rugby league legend Royce Simmons disclosed in January 2022 that, at age 61, he had been diagnosed with dementia the previous year, many were in shock.

Typically, the former Kangaroos hooker immediately set about not only exploring what he required to do to slow the dreaded condition’s progress, his thoughts turned to assisting others who were affected by the disease – not just sufferers but their supporting families too.

Within months, Royce’s Big Walk (a registered charity foundation)  as a reality and the support he has received by not just many VIPs of rugby league, but the Penrith district’s community and beyond has been extraordinary.

So, among other fund-raising initiatives for Royce’s designated not-for-profit support organisation, Dementia Australia, Royce will walk – from May 17-26 – the 300km from his small hometown of Gooloogong (population less than 300) through Cowra, Carcoar, Blayney, Bathurst, Katoomba and across the Blue Mountains, arriving pre-match at Penrith’s Bluebet Stadium the night the Panthers take on North Queensland Cowboys.

Along the way there will be several sportsman’s dinners or lunches, and a coaching clinic, to help raise funds for local rugby league on the route.

You can support Royce’s mission, Dementia Australia, junior rugby league and, in particular, the families who have or will go through what Royce himself is confronting, by donating or attending some of the functions from May 17-26.

The tough-as-nails former Panthers skipper is tackling his Alzheimer’s diagnosis just as he would any other opponent on the footy field – head on and with the benefit of his ‘team’ and their supporters as his major priority.

Royce Simmons talks the the media at his press conference

The Journey

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