IT is a big step up from the Aldinga Football Club to the AFL, especially for an 11-year-old, but the trials of the last couple of years have prepared young Rhiley Jason Murray for just about anything.
In June 2020, when he was just nine, Rhiley was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
He underwent cancer treatment and is now in remission, and all along the avid Port Adelaide supporter and his family have received valuable support from the Childhood Cancer Association.
In its 40th year, the Childhood Cancer Association (CCA) continues to provide practical, individual tailored hands-on support for children with cancer and their families.
CCA remains an important charity partner of the Port Adelaide Football Club, and so with Rhiley in good health and now playing footy with Aldinga, he was invited along to Alberton Oval this week to take in the team meeting and join in on some training.
Port Adelaide midfielder Travis Boak – who has been an ambassador for CCA for more than 12 years – introduced Rhiley to the group and presented him with a personalised guernsey, then told him he would be leading the side out against Richmond on Saturday night.
“It is a really special day for Rhiley and his family,” Boak said afterwards. “This week the Childhood Cancer Association is the charity partner for gameday on Saturday night.
“We presented Rhiley with his guernsey and also let him know he’ll run out with us on the weekend. It’s really exciting for him and his family and also for the footy club.
“We are fortunate we’ll have Rhiley run out with us as part of Childhood Cancer Association’s partnership with our footy club, to give him an experience and raise awareness of the work of CCA.”
Rhiley told Boak his favourite player was Charlie Dixon, and the big forward was more than happy to spend some time taking photos with him and his family.
Rhiley’s father Ben Murray – who has also joined his son playing for Aldinga this year – said it was a thrill to see his son with his idols.
“We’ve been fans since day one so we can’t wait to see him run out there with the boys,” Ben explained. “From where he was to where he is now, it’s definitely good to see how much he’s improved.
“Obviously when Rhiley got diagnosed, it was when Covid first hit (and Boak could not conduct in-person hospital visits), so it’s been good to finally meet Travis and catch up.
“(CCA has) helped us out with a lot of care packages and made us feel more comfortable when we stayed in hospital. They’ve been awesome, a massive support.”
CCA was formed in 1982 by a group of parents of children with cancer, responding to the needs they had identified through their own experience.
With the help of paediatric oncologist Dr Michael Rice, the organisation has helped hundreds of families, but it receives no government funding and relies on the generosity of businesses and individuals to continue its good work.
Boak urged people to dig deep to support the association and those dealing with childhood cancer.
“They’ve been amazing supporting not only the kids going through cancer but also the families as well with counselling and a lot of hands-on support,” he said.
“They get no government funding, and they rely solely on the generosity of the public.
“You’ll see me wearing their gold laces on the weekend, which you can buy online, because they do so much good work in the community supporting kids who are going through things that no kid and no family should have to go through.”
You can show your support of the Childhood Cancer Association at Saturday night’s game between Port Adelaide and Richmond.
For every $5 donation, you will be giving a virtual “High Five” to kids with cancer, which will ensure a family receives the ‘hands-on support’ they need during such a difficult time. You can donate here or buy gold shoelaces online or at the Port Store at Alberton Oval.