Under normal circumstances going into school on a Sunday would be hell on Earth, but this weekend was an exception at Gadara.
The students got to play with top-of-the-line Harley Davidson motorcycles, kick a ball around with NRL greats like Brad Fittler, Steve Menzies, and Danny Buderus, and take photos that are sure to be treasured for a lifetime.
The school is a stop of the Origin legends Hogs for the Homeless tour, with this being the second time Gadara has been included on the massive event schedule.
Former Sydney Roosters superstar and current commentator Brad Fittler said it was an unforgettable part of their 2016 ride.
“The first time we came here it was sort of by accident, but of all our rides it’s the one that’s had the biggest impact,” he said.
“We get more out of this than the kids.”
Organiser Josh Perry added that they wouldn’t miss including Gadara on their ride around NSW.
“We came here last year and it was our highlight, so we went out of our way to come back here again,” he said.
“Seeing all the smiles on the kids’ faces, you know, you get a bit teary. That’s why we do it – it’s all about the kids and what we can do for them.”
Hogs for the Homeless involves some of NSW favourite footy players riding around the state to raise money for Father Chris Riley’s Youth Off the Streets program.
It’s been running for five years, and has so far raised over half a million dollars for programs that aim to rehabilitate troubled young people.
Another benefit is giving country kids the opportunity to meet their heroes, as Manly Sea Eagles champion Steve Menzies explained.
“Seeing the kids here today… they don’t get to see Danny Buderus’s and Brad Fitttlers and guys like that every day like you can in the city,” he said.
After Tumut the group headed off to Jindabyne for a fundraising dinner.
They visit 14 towns across 4000 kilometres in 11 days, with some of their activities including Rugby League clinics, and even helping to resurface a footy field in Walgett.
According to Steve Menzies, one stand-out was their previous days’ participation giving advice and encouragement at a girls match in Wagga.
“A lot of the girls played Oz Tag, so this was their first game of actual league, but they seemed to love it,” he said.
“The way the girls play is inspiring,” said Brad Fittler.
“It’s really raw, there were a few injuries and the girls were all still saying ‘how good was that’.”
Brad Fittler is the one who came up with the idea for Hogs for the Homeless, being a long-time volunteer with Youth Off the Streets.
“He used to do some work for them when he was playing; he used to give out hot meals and stuff like that down on Oxford Street with the guys less fortunate than us,” organiser Josh Perry explained.
“When he retired he had a Harley and came up with the idea and I came in to run it for him.”
Since then the event has been a hit, especially at Gadara.
You couldn’t wipe the smiles off either the kids or the parents’ faces on Sunday – and the NSW Blues wigs the boys’ gave out doubtlessly won’t be taken off for a while either.