“He was my best friend and I really miss him.”
Nine-year-old Hayden Way lost his mate Simon in 2015 and on Wednesday he walked from Cullen Bullen to Portland in his memory.
The seven kilometre walk, called ‘7 for 7 for Simon’, raised close to $12,000 for the Simon Williams Memorial Charity.
The charity was established in March 2016 by Shane Williams and Renee Bradford.
It helps the families and siblings of children who have lost their lives by providing keepsakes, teddies and books about grief for young people. It also provides access to counselling sessions donated by Joanne Murray.
“I really appreciate what Hayden’s done,” Renee said.
“Hayden and Simon were really good friends.”
Hayden approached Renee in October to ask if he could mark Simon’s birthday, December 6, by supporting the charity and undertaking the walk.
After the walk Hayden was excited to see that his efforts had made a difference, particularly through the funds raised.
“Brilliant, it was the most I’ve ever raised,” he said.
The year four student at Wallerawang Public School had his mother Penny by his side the whole way.
He was also joined by his grandmother for a portion of the walk as well as three of his mates for the final stretch.
Josh and Penny Way were proud of their son.
“He did an awesome job today,” Josh said.
“Simon was one of his best mates and he hung around him for a long time, went and played with him at his house whenever he could, played with him at school, ended up having a good bond.
“I hope it get’s bigger and better and then some of his best mates at school can actually join him.”
Hayden was keen to see ‘7 for 7 for Simon’ grow in the coming years with more people to walk alongside and even more funds raised for the Simon Williams Memorial Charity.
Renee agreed it would be fantastic to see the walk to become an annual event.
“I hope so. It would be amazing if it is. I had a few of Simon’s other friends that wanted to walk with Hayden but we said no this year… we might be able to include all the kids next year,” she said.