Most people in the Camden Haven remember the energetic larrikin Luke O’Neill. Whether directly or indirectly, people who came across Luke were left with a lasting impression of his gregarious spirit.
The third Luke O’Neill Memorial Charity Shield sports day was held on Sunday in Laurieton. There were plenty of smiles and fun as more than 200 touch football players took to the fields in memory of a mate taken from the community and his family too soon.
Members of Luke’s family were at the gala day. His mum Jodie Monkley said each event is a struggle for her, but seeing the community come together helps.
“I can’t be any more grateful to the guys that put this together for us and all the families that come, it’s just amazing there’s not enough words I could say,” Jodie said on Sunday.
“The boys who have travelled to be here have made a big effort. Even Bowdi Latham, one of Luke’s good friends, travelled up from Canberra for the day.
“For me this is hard every year, I struggle all day. It’s quite emotional. I’m sure everyone thinks of Luke throughout the year, but having a day like today brings it all back.
“I look out from the canteen and see little kids playing and I think he should be here enjoying this but it’s like he’s here anyway.”
Each year the Luke O’Neill Memorial Shield raises funds for a charity. In the past events have raised thousands of dollars for people with autism and this year the Leukaemia Foundation will benefit from the day’s proceeds.
One of the organisers of the 2016 event and mate of Luke, Brice Hayward, played in a team of Luke’s friends.
“Everyone in every team could say how they know Luke in one way or another, that’s something special,” he said.
“It’s a good day to remember him and a good day to bring the community together.”