Earlier in the week, the nib Newcastle Knights received the following letter.
With permission from the family, they have allowed us to share the email which details the lengths Kalyn Ponga went to, in order to create a lifelong memory.
I would just like to say a massive thankyou to not only Kalyn Ponga but the whole Newcastle Knights team.
We travelled all the way from Darwin, NT so our kids could watch their first NRL game live and my Husband could see his beloved Knights live before he heads back off to sea in the Navy.
Our twin sons Cooper and Riley (7) are both Autistic with Riley also being diagnosed with ADHD, Anxiety, a mild stutter and difficulty with his speech as a result he has difficultly interacting with his peers and only has one friend at school.
Fortunately he has 3 other siblings and a family that adores him.
Recently Riley was the victim of a bullying incident at his school where the bully pushed him to the ground and kicked him in the face leaving him with a mild head injury, blood nose, bruising to his face and subconjunctival haemorrhage to his left eye.
This bully even cut Riley’s new shoes the day after we bought them for him and has previously pulled him from the monkey bars thus giving him further head injuries and tackled him on the concrete causing grazing on his lips.
Our holiday to Newcastle could not come fast enough after this incident.
Riley loves Football, he plays in the local Under 7’s Sharkies team, it’s been a saving grace and if he could play rugby all day everyday he would!
He has Nike footy boots just like the players he sees on the tv.
He loves scoring tries and at last count for this season he made 16 tries.
Riley and Cooper have difficulty talking to strangers so we decided the signs were the best way to get them involved and also encourage them to ask the players for a photo. Riley had one special request.
Battling the weather on game day that we have never experienced before, it gets to 24 degrees in the NT and we think that is cold! We never imaged any of the players coming over to our seats let alone what happened next...
Even though Kalyn had already given away his headgear he amazingly gave Riley the shirt off his back!!
We then waited out the back in the hope we would catch him on the way out and he could sign it. He got out of his car signed his own jersey and posed for another photo.
Such a small kind act has made an impact they may not have even been aware that it would. It is a lifetime memory for not only Riley but our entire family.
To KP and each and every member of the team who posed for a photo on game day and the training session with our kids and our “#HillTribe meets the Knights” sign.
I want to Thank You all from the bottom of my heart and wish the team the best of luck in 2020.
Jessica, Richard, Zoey, Riley, Cooper and Mackenzie Hill.