THE Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service will be the beneficiary from the Joel Dark Memorial Day to be held on Saturday in conjunction with the opening round Group Three Rugby League clash between Old Bar Pirates and Port Macquarie at the Old Bar Reserve.
Joel, a club junior and the youngest son of Darrin and Narelle Dark of Old Bar, collapsed after sustaining a head knock while making his first grade debut for Central Newcastle in a match in Newcastle last September. He died in John Hunter Hospital five days later, aged 19.
"Joel's death devastated the (Old Bar) community,'' Old Bar Pirates president Andrew Wilkes said.
"It's still raw.''
The Dark family's association with the Pirates stretches back to the club's formative years. Joel's dad, Darrin, was a member of the first Old Bar team to play a competition game. A former first grade captain and coach, he's a life member and considered one of the club's best ever players.
"Joel was a huge part of this club,'' Mr Wilkes continued.
"Not only was he a player, he also coached junior sides and he was always ready to help out wherever he could.''
Mr Wilkes said it was always the club's intention to honour Joel's memory.
"We spoke with Darrin and Narelle first before deciding on the Westpac Rescue Helicopter as the charity we'd support. We thought this was fitting as the service assists injured athletes,'' Mr Wilkes added.
The Old Bar first grade players will wear specially designed jumpers for the clash against the Sharks. These will be auctioned at a function to be held at Club Old Bar on Saturday night.
Mr Wilkes said further fund raising activities will be held at the ground. The Pirates will be assisted by Saltwater Boardriders Club members, as Joel was also a keen surfer and club member. Joel's Central Newcastle team-mates have also been invited to the day.
The Pirates will also meet the Sharks in four grades, starting at 11.30 with the league tag clash. First grade will kickoff at the traditional time of 3pm.
Mr Wilkes said it is the club's intention to hold the memorial day annually and to use it as a fund raiser for a nominated charity.