There’s a recurring theme when friends and family talk about Wayde Dunley. They all speak about his “heart of gold”.
The East Campbelltown Eagles Rugby League Football Club player died after he fell 15 metres from a cliff in Bundeena National Park on Saturday, July 8, while fishing with friends.
He left behind wife Chelsea, and seven-month-old child, Koa.
But his older brother Shane said friends and family were taking comfort in the fact that Wayde’s final selfless act was to save the life of another by donating his heart.
“When he first arrived at St George Hospital his brain had swollen so much they couldn’t do anything for him – but his heart was beating strong and it wasn’t giving up,” he said.
“He had such a big, strong heart of gold and it’s comforting knowing it’s helping someone and it’s still out there beating.
“The conversation about your organs is one no one ever wants to have.
“But Chelsea brought it up and said ‘this is what Wayde would have wanted’.”
The camaraderie and goodwill of the rugby league community has also shone brightly during the dark days that have followed Wayde’s death.
The East Campbelltown Eagles have organised a benefit night this Friday, July 21 at Club Menangle for the captain of the club’s 2014 Sydney Shield premiership winning side.
All proceeds will go to Chelsea and Koa.
A GoFundMe page has also been set up and as of Friday afternoon had raised almost $29,000 – with the goal of reaching $50,000.
Channel 9’s The Footy Show and several NRL clubs have also got behind Chelsea and Koa, donating items which will be auctioned off on the night.
Mr Dunley said his brother’s friends and family had been buoyed by the support from within the rugby league community.
“I didn’t realise the amount of support that was out there,” Mr Dunley said.
“I’ve had people ring me and contact me who I didn’t even know existed.”
His cousin, former NSW Origin halfback and current Newcastle Knights player, Trent Hodkinson – who grew up in Minto – paid tribute to Wayde, a former Wests Tigers under 20s player and a previous member of the club’s top 25 squad, on Instragram.
“I shake my head in disbelief that you are no longer with us,” he wrote.
“I looked up to you whether you knew that or not. I know you would have fought right to the very end.”
Mr Dunley encouraged others to follow Wayde’s lead and talk about organ donation.
“Make sure you have that conversation even though you don’t want to.”
For more details about the benefit night call Daniel Draper on 0425 335 345 or visit the East Campbelltown Eagles Supporter Group Facebook page.
To donate to the GoFundMe page visit gofundme.com/support-chelsea-and-koa-rip-dunners.
For information on organ donation visitdonatelife.gov.au.