THE name of late Churchill football legend David ‘Crocka’ Williams will live on through a new foundation created in his honour to combat heart disease.
The Crocka Foundation, established by Mr Williams’ wife Kylea, will launch in November to raise awareness and prevention of sudden cardiac death with the support of the Murdoch Children’s Research Centre in Melbourne.
Mr Williams tragically died on New Year’s Day 2011 from cardiac arrest aged 35; later it was found he suffered a genetic form of cardiomyopathy that had gone unnoticed.
The foundation’s aim is to raise at least $30,000 each year for the MCRC through a range of fundraising events, beginning with a black tie cocktail launch at Churchill Football Club on 9 November.
‘Crocka’ played more than 200 games for Churchill in the North Gippsland Football League and his death came as a huge shock to the community.
“I couldn’t understand how this could happen… I couldn’t grasp the concept that he could die from something like this,” Mrs Williams said.
“I couldn’t let go of it and I wasn’t sleeping so I thought I’ve got to do something, I want to keep his memory alive.”
Mrs Williams said the decision to create the organisation was born out of a recognition that her husband’s legacy could make a difference.
“So many people came to me after his death and said ‘I can’t believe he died he was so indestructible’, and people took out life insurance and went and got health checks,” she said.
“I thought that if he had that much effect on people, because he was the local legend, maybe his name can make a difference, maybe people might step up and think we have to do something here if he could die.”
The genetic form of cardiomyopathy Mr Williams suffered from, cardiomegaly, is the deterioration of the heart muscle which can be fatal if untreated.
“In most circumstances the symptoms are death; if it’s not picked up in an electrocardiogram or heart echo, generally the first symptom you get is that you have cardiac arrest and die,” Mrs Williams said.
“People think it’s a lifestyle thing, but generally healthy people are affected as well.”
MCRC’s research shows that a larger number of young people are being affected by the illness, and Mrs Williams said it was important to seek health checks.
“You’re getting young footy players dying on the football field because they have an undiagnosed cardiomyopathy,” she said.
“My husband was extremely fit, he’d just done Kokoda, he paddled Murray marathons, did bike rides, he was very fit but it made no difference.
“If they find something early you can be medicated… if you’re not medicated and you don’t know you’ve got it, chances are you’ll die.”
The Crocka Foundation has been a year in the making and the journey has been an emotional one for Mrs Williams and her three children.
“Because it was unexpected we were in shock for a long time,” she said.
“Luckily I’ve got really good friends and a great support network.”
The launch party is open to the public and the foundation is currently seeking corporate sponsorship.
For more information or to get involved email Kylea Williams at email@example.com or check the Facebook page www.facebook.com/CrockaFoundation
Tickets for the cocktail launch can be booked at www.trybooking.com/BYPO