Seven Network’s Sunrise Interview

Rugby league legend Royce Simmons begins fundraising walk for dementia awareness

The Penrith premiership winner has hit the road after doctors gave him an unexpected diagnosis last year.

Royce Simmons shocked the sporting world earlier this year when he revealed he had been diagnosed with dementia at the age of 61.

But rather than complain, the rugby league legend has turned his efforts to raising awareness and funds to support others living with the debilitating condition.

The former Penrith premiership winner is currently walking 300km to raise money for Dementia Australia.

He is travelling from his small home town of Gooloogong through Cowra, Carcoar, Blayney, Bathurst, Katoomba and across the Blue Mountains before arriving at Bluebet Stadium just before kick off for the Panthers-Cowboys clash on May 27.

“I sat around for a while and felt sorry for myself and everything, then I saw all the work that Mark Hughes was doing for brain cancer and thought ‘why can’t I do something similar?’,” he told Sunrise on Wednesday

“So I decided to do this walk and I thought we’d start off and I’d be walking along with a bucket and everyone would be throwing a few dollars in, but it’s just grown, grown and grown.”

Royce’s Big Walk, a registered charity, has increased its fundraising goal from $100,000 to half a million thanks to the support of generous Australians.

he former Kangaroos hooker praised the “rugby league community” and the “support that all my fellow players have given me” for helping to make the initiative a success so far.

“Dementia is the biggest killer of women in the world and second-biggest killer of men, so we need to work hard at it and let everyone know just how bad this disease is,” he said.

Watch the video here