Growing up in Horsham with my two brothers and best mates gave me a real sense of community.
We would spend our time playing basketball together, kicking the footy after school and hanging out on what we called, ‘the best street in Horsham.’
We had our great times together but we also experienced times of tragedy.
Our family was hit hard when we lost our mother, Jedda, to breast cancer in 2013.
Every person deals with loss and the feelings associated with it differently and in that time I realised pretty quickly how lucky I was with the support and community I had around me.
The Berry brothers photographed with their mother, Jedda.
We had people rocking up to our door, giving us food and looking after my brothers and dad when mum was in the hospital.
Even my mates would leave school at lunchtime to come and see me when I took a bit of time off after mum’s passing.
It was a massive community effort and helped me hugely to make peace with mum’s life and what she left as her legacy.
It’s that legacy that helped us come up with our fundraising idea: ‘Berry boys and brothers buzz cut for breast cancer.’
One of my best mates Will Robertson — who lived 50 metres down the street from me growing up — has been growing his dreads for about five years.
A few months ago, he said he wanted to have a bit of a change and at the time it was the fifth anniversary of mum’s passing.
He floated the idea of shaving our heads to raise money for BCNA to us Berry boys and our other mate, Benny Lakin, and we just said, ‘let’s do it, let’s have a crack at raising a bit of money.’
So we set the date for October 6 and went about raising our goal of $5,000.
The fundraising took off and after a few social media posts and support from our local community and up in Brisbane, we quickly surpassed that goal and set a new target of $20,000.
It was pretty amazing that the community was able to jump on board and help us out knowing BCNA is a charity that is so close to all of our hearts and one that helped my family significantly during mum’s illness.
It’s been a bit of a roller-coaster so far and now we’ve raised almost $35,000 but we couldn’t have done it without the help of the Brisbane Lions Head of Welfare, Andrew Crowell.
Andrew’s done a fair bit of work behind the scenes for us and he’s been really massive in helping us put everything together and manage the organisational side of things.
The Lions playing group have been a huge part of helping us donate and put everything together, too.
This year Ryan Lester was integral to the player-driven initiative to donate $5,000 of our Reverse Raffle money to BCNA and the cause. It was pretty special for them to get behind what I was trying to achieve and it means a lot to me knowing I’ve got their support.
Although us Berry boys are disjointed geographically now and have been since I moved away to boarding school six months after mum’s passing, we’re tighter than we ever have been.
The relationships, the love and passion we have for each other is hard to describe. Dad deserves all the recognition he can get for keeping us together as a family unit and he’s done a terrific job with us
It’s our relationship as a family that helps mum’s legacy live on.
Mum was a pretty inspirational person and leader, despite not trying to be. The way she was so positive and the way she did things is something for us all to live by.
Those special values that she had instilled in her life are really strong in my life now and my brothers, especially the battle and not giving up.
The actions I take are always in memory of her and everything I do is in honour of her — that’s how I like to hold myself in life.
Her life was really special and I have been able to come to peace with it. I think about her every day but it’s not something that drags me down, I use it to lift me up to be a better person.