AFL kid’s act of kind­ness

A sim­ple act of friend­ship be­tween a blind boy and his car­ing mate caused a so­cial media storm and melted hearts across the na­tion

Woman’s Day (Australia) - - Contents -

He’s been blind for the past four years after suf­fer­ing from cancer, but there’s noth­ing Mark Smith loves more than go­ing to cheer on his beloved Syd­ney Swans with his best mate Jar­ryd Haines.

But ear­lier this year, as the pair sat in the stands and lis­tened to the com­men­tary of the AFL game on Jar­ryd’s phone, the sig­nal died.

What car­ing 12-year-old Jar­ryd did next in­spired all who sat around the boys in the chilly stands of the SCG.

“When the ra­dio died, I just de­cided I’d call the game for Mark my­self,” says Jar­ryd. “I didn’t want him to miss out.”

Those within earshot were gob­s­macked by Jar­ryd’s run­ning com­men­tary, and said he ri­valled the game’s pro­fes­sional call­ers.

“Jar­ryd was amaz­ing,” says a proud Mark, 13, of his friend. “It was the best com­men­tary I’ve ever heard in my life.”

Swans sup­porter Jonathan Dren­nan was so taken by Jar­ryd’s act of kind­ness that he shared on so­cial media. “I was sit­ting nearby,” says Jonathan. “I was with my fi­ancee and we heard this amaz­ing com­men­tary. It was so good, I had to tweet it.”

The tweet caused a sen­sa­tion and even­tu­ally made its way to the Swans play­ers, who de­cided to cel­e­brate the spe­cial friend­ship of two of their big­gest sup­port­ers.

“It just shows the power of so­cial media,” says Jonathan. “And the power of the foot­ball com­mu­nity. Ev­ery­body got be­hind the tweet and the next thing we knew, the boys were be­ing given a tour of the SCG and the fa­cil­i­ties by the Swans them­selves.”

“It’s been amaz­ing,” says an ex­cited Mark. “We met all of the play­ers and I loved go­ing be­hind the scenes to places like the warm-up rooms. It’s in­cred­i­ble back there. Even though I can’t see the game, it still gives me en­ergy when I hear the crowd roar­ing.”

A thrilled Mark and Jar­ryd were also in­vited as team mas­cots to the elim­i­na­tion fi­nal, where the Swans took on Essendon and smashed them in a rous­ing vic­tory.

The pair even got to run onto the field with their he­roes at the be­gin­ning of the match.

“I couldn’t be­lieve it,” says Mark, who to­gether with his best mate, will never for­get that in­cred­i­ble day.

Best mates Mark (left) and Jar­ryd were treated to a spe­cial day at the SCG. The boys re­ceived an ap­plause from the Swans play­ers... ...and met their AFL he­roes.

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