This Saturday (29 June) “Huddy Day” will take place as rugby league outfit Bungendore Tigers aim to raise money for autism awareness and the Ricky Stuart Foundation.
Huddy Day’s main campaigner and namesake, Tigers junior Hudson “Huddy” Fogarty-Apps, says he does not let his autism stand in the way of his love for rugby.
Last year, Hudson raised $35,000 for the Ricky Stuart Foundation and was the youngest ever recipient of the New South Wales Premier’s Award for Public Service.
Tigers seniors captain and coach Zach Smith arrived at the club two years ago and has already seen the positive impact Hudson has had on the club and the community.
“He’s fantastic,” Smith said. “For a person being so young he gives a lot of time to us, he really brings a great vibe and helps out with anything that we need at the club.
“He’s always giving out water bottles, packing up training equipment and sometimes he will even jump in and train with us as well.”
In 2018, the club supported the cause by wearing green socks, which represents Hudson’s favourite team, the Canberra Raiders.
This year, Tigers men’s and women’s teams will wear the traditional green socks, but will also mix in the Bungendore team colours on Saturday afternoon when the UC Grizzlies visit Mick Sherd Oval.
There is a serious buzz surrounding the NSW based team ahead of the weekend and it has caused one of Zach’s teammates to show a great level of commitment at the Lake George Hotel at 6 pm.
“Back at the pub after the game, one of our locals is actually going to shave his head to raise more money for Huddy Day,” Smith said.
“That player is Nick Sands and the best thing about this is he has not had a haircut in five-and-a-half years, so his hair is quite long. He really wants to get behind the day and it is just a way of giving back.”
The captain described how the community unite together and appreciate the recognition it gains.
“It brings the community together and you can see how tight-knit they are when something like this happens,” Smith said.
“Also the support from Canberra Region Rugby League, the Canberra Raiders and Ricky Stuart himself, Ricky has been a huge fan of Huddy’s and what he does for the community.”
Ricky Stuart, whose own daughter has autism, has been a long time advocator of autism and his gratitude towards what Bungendore are doing means a lot to the club.
“It shows a level of appreciation from him to see what a club like this is doing to help the bigger picture of autism,” Zach said.