By Nick Creely
The Dandenong Football Netball Club and Fountain Gate Cricket Club will come together to hit lymphoma for six when both clubs play off in a Twenty20 match on Sunday 22 September for one of its favourite sons.
Justin ‘Juzzy’ Smith, 24 – the vice-president and much-loved member of both clubs– was recently diagnosed with Burkitt lymphoma in the stomach, groin and brain, in what is going to be an extensive journey to recovery after undergoing chemotherapy.
Both clubs have decided to hold a special fundraising Twenty20 clash at Max Pawsey Reserve in Narre Warren – with the cricketers set to take on the footballers from 12pm – to raise funds for Justin and his family to help pay medical costs, including hospital stay, treatment and living expenses, with Justin unable to work at the moment.
There will be raffles, auctions, gold coin face painting, a jumping castle, as well as plenty of food and drinks on sale on the day. The boundaries should also be tested, with plenty of fours and sixes, as well as spectacular moments in the field almost a certainty.
Dandenong Football Club committee member Gail Smith – who is organising the event – said that Justin’s impact on both clubs is immeasurable.
“He is a dedicated, hard-working man, who puts his heart and soul into the football club, and I also work with him in the workforce, and he’s been sorely missed there and his job has been kept for him,” she said.
“But as far as football involvement goes, you could not get a nicer, would give you the shirt off his back guy – he’s been heavily involved in trying to get sponsorship for the football club too.
“If you ask him to do something, he just does it – I couldn’t speak highly enough of him. His integrity is second to none.
“We’re all really sad at the moment that he’s going through this, and all we want to do is be there for him and his family.”
Gail said the committee just simply had to do its part for its beloved vice-president and his family. She believes it’s what community is all about.
“When he had to finish up at work, we knew he wouldn’t have any funds coming in, so we knew he’d be struggling,” she said.
“As a football club committee we discussed it, and we wanted to do a fundraiser, and because he’s heavily involved in the cricket club to, we decided to join with them and contact them, and they came up with the suggestion of the Twenty20 match – the cricketers taking on the footballers.
“We just want to assist him with his day-to-day living expenses, as he’s not going to be able to work for at least another six months. We want to also raise funds to help his partner Courtney, and his parents, as we all know how expensive parking at the hospital is.”
And Gail urged the community to get behind Justin on what is going to be a special day, hoping everyone can dig deep and help get the family through a rough trot.
“It’s extremely important that we can get as many people as possible to attend to support Justin and his family as they go through a really tough time,” she said.
“We can’t support him with his health, and we can’t take away what he’s going through obviously, but we can try and make it a bit easier for him financially.”
If anyone would like any further details, or can donate items for the raffle or food, can contact Gail on 0409 802 339.
Justin is also writing a blog documenting his brave journey before he was diagnosed and his treatment in hospital. To view it, head to justinsdaysinthedark.tumblr.com