LOSING her 24-year-old son Rhys has devastated Jodie McNaughton, but she is drawing strength from the amazing fundraising efforts of his many friends for men's health.
The rugby player and part-time model, who had just completed his teaching degree at Lismore's Southern Cross University, took his own life last month.
"Growing up he loved the beach and any kind of sport, but he hated golf," Ms McNaughton said.
"I think that's only because it was the only sport he couldn't do well.
" One of her favourite memories of her son, Ms McNaughton said, was having a hail fight in the middle of a storm when he was in Year 11.
"We were sopping wet and getting hurt but we had a ball," she said.
Zac Efron lookalike
The striking likeness to Hollywood actor Zac Efron had stuck with Rhys for years.
"As soon as people realised the likeness he started getting called Zac Efron," Ms McNaughton said.
"Then when he went to uni someone found his Year 12 formal photo and sent it into a magazine with a photo of Zac Efron and all his mates started calling him 'Zeffa'."
Feeling his presence
Ms McNaughton said she felts Rhys was looking over her when his friends came over to see her after his death.
"It felt highly cathartic because it hailed, then 10 minutes before 18 boys arrived at my house the storm stopped, and when they all got inside it started to rain again," she said.
Rhys' life was celebrated on Monday at the Lake Macquarie Memorial Park Chapel, near Newcastle.
"There were over 500 people there which was wonderful," Ms McNaughton said.
A Movember fundraiser for Rhys is currently first in Australia with more than $34,900 raised for men's health.
"I feel so honoured and so privileged that while my son's death was horrible, I'm so lucky that the beautiful soul he was, he can make a difference in death and he is making a difference since his death ... not many people can do that," Ms McNaughton said.
"Normally after a funeral its over but Rhys' memory will live on."
Rhys was Jodie's much loved son, a cherished friend of Holly, loving brother to Ethan, Ross, Max, Darcy and Louise.
He was the adored grandson of Penny and Tony and nephew of Troy and Chad.
Rhys will be sadly missed by Bob and Brendan.
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To donate visit https://au.movember.com/team/2061121.
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