XAVIER Dunn will lead his heroes out on a special day on Saturday.
The eight-year-old will take centre stage before kick-off in the local derby between Hastings Valley Vikings and Port Pirates when he leads the Vikings onto Oxley Oval.
Xavier had a brain tumour removed in 2015 and the link to the Vikings winds back to father Simon’s playing days in 1996.
Simon won a premiership with the Vikings in 2010.
Saturday’s fixture is about more than who is in front on the scoreboard by 5pm.
It is a day where the club as a whole aims to raise awareness and funds for the Cure Brain Cancer Foundation.
Xavier’s mother, Kim, said they all felt part of the Vikings family.
“The thing about brains is that anything that is in there that shouldn’t be can have catastrophic effects whether it’s grade one or grade four,” she said.
“It’s still life-changing.”
Xavier is really excited to lead the guys out onto the field because they’re his heroes, he loves the Vikings and anything to do with footy.Xavier Dunn's mother, Kim
The Vikings jerseys will have three other names on their jerseys for very special reasons alongside Xavier’s – Jen Taylor, Caleb Scott and Phil Hanley.
Every one of those families have been touched in one way or the other – whether it is through brain cancer, or in the eight-year-old’s case – a brain tumour.
“We know everyone, they know us and we have been involved with the club for decades so it’s extra special having those guys around,” she said.
“Xavier is really excited to lead the guys out onto the field because they’re his heroes, he loves the Vikings and anything to do with footy.
“For them to include him on the day, with it being such a big part of our lives, we’re stoked.”
She said it was pleasing to see brain cancer awareness receive the “spotlight” it deserved.
“It means a lot to us to know that we’ve got the club still supporting us,” she said.
“Xavier is three years down the track from being diagnosed with a brain tumour and having surgery so it’s nice to know that the community still has our back.
“They’re like family to us, the Vikings.”
Hastings Valley forward Lyndon Gale said the brain cancer awareness match put everything into perspective.
“A day like this really means a lot to us and it’s only fair we give back to these sorts of foundations,” he said.
“It brings a bit more emotion to the game and when you raise money, it’s good for the community and makes it a bit more special.”
Pirates captain Peter Gowler said they were pleased to play their part on the day.
A day like this really means a lot to us and it’s only fair we give back to these sorts of foundations.Lyndon Gale
“It’s an amazing day to be a part of,” he said.
“We’ll be wearing our indigenous jerseys to acknowledge and respect the indigenous people’s and the traditional custodians of the land.”
The day doubles as the Vikings sponsors day and the playing jerseys will be auctioned off at Port City Bowling Club following the match.
All proceeds will go to the Cure Brain Cancer Foundation.
Matches start from 10am on Saturday at Oxley Oval with first grade to kick off at 3pm.