Max Duffy has recalled the times he spent with his mate Stephen Rigg talking about their futures and why it played such a big part in the Freo Docker becoming an ambassador for HeartKids WA.
Rigg suffered a heart attack playing cricket in January 2011 and passed away eight days later at Royal Perth Hospital.
Duffy and Rigg met through a mutual friend when they were both in year eight and became great mates over the years.
“At leavers we spent a fair few nights together, just me and Stephen talking about what we wanted to do in the future and then we finished school and spent time together during the summer,” Duffy said.
“I think leavers for most people is a memorable time but I think looking back now it’s even more special as it was an experience we had with him.
“It’s a memory I will cherish forever.”
Duffy was with Rigg the night before his heart attack.
“All of our mates were together and I can still remember that night and the last time we saw him,” he said.
“We were planning to go to the cricket game the day he collapsed but we didn’t make it in time before he had his heart attack.”
Duffy was heading to the game with a group of friends when one of his mates got a phone call and found out the bad news.
“We weren’t too sure how serious it was but we knew it was reasonably serious,” he said.
“I can remember we had all slept at the same house the night before so it happened that there was about four or five of us at the house that morning and we found out.
“Everyone was pretty quiet.”
Duffy visited Stephen every day during his fight for life in RPH and during that time he formed a special bond with Stephen’s dad, Phil Rigg.
“I will never forget the impact Phil had on my life during that period,” Duffy said.
“It was significant and I wanted to repay how much and how good he was when Stephen passed away.
“He put a lot of time into Stephen’s mates.”
Duffy has decided that a good way to payback Phil is to become a HeartKids ambassador.
He started by donating half his match fee from his debut game against Geelong in round 20.
“I am really honoured that HeartKids asked me to come on board,” Duffy said.
“I hope I can raise as much awareness as I can and honour Stephen in a way he would like to be remembered.”
The Freo Docker had the chance to meet Travis Bennett, who is living with a heart disease.
He has a condition called tetralogy of Fallot – a rare combination of four heart defects.
Travis is also a Freo Dockers cheer squad member, and his mum Geraldine said the family now has a new favourite player.
“When I read Max’s story, it made me cry,” Geraldine said.
“Max’s timing was a bit out, the week before he debuted we bought Travis a Nat Fyfe guernsey, but he has a new favourite player now.
“We can’t wait to yell ‘Duffy’ out when he runs onto Patersons Stadium again soon.”