by Dane Lillingstone
SMILES on kids faces, parents enjoying a laugh and a couple of footy legends coming to town was all that was needed to lift the spirits of the Proserpine community yesterday.
Cowboys legends Matt Bowen and Brent Tate were joined by current Cowboys and Queensland State of Origin star Justin O'Neill as they visited Airlie Beach, Bowen and Proserpine on Tuesday.
Announced on Monday, the players visited the region to lift the spirits in the north Queensland community decimated by Cyclone Debbie.
Tate said being a parent made him appreciate the value of a child's smile.
"It means a lot to these people. They've been going pretty hard the last few days. People are doing it tough. When you've got kids of your own and you see kids get a buzz, it makes you feel good as well. That's the best thing about it,” the former centre said.
"People in the north are renowned for sticking together and that's been what we've got here today. I think around here you've got farmers that have lost a lot. For us it's really nice to be able to come out and give everyone a break. We're not helping physically but hopefully socially we're making an impact.”
Bowen said it was all about the kids.
"It's just good to come down here and see people like this and put a smile on their faces.
"To come here and do this and take those things off their mind, it's good. We've done our job.
"They've been through a tough time,” he said.
"For a lot of these people Cowboys are their team. To come here and show our support and show we're thinking about them and to see the kids is the most important thing.
"I'm sure the kids will look back and remember us coming down here and doing this.”
Cowboys centre O'Neill is currently sidelined due to injury but said the whole experience had been an eye opener.
"I think it's amazing to see how positive people can still be after what they've been through and how much they've lost,” he said.
"We know how much support the community gives us and how far they travel for games. Us being out here is a way to give back to the community.”
Taking a tour of Proserpine and holding a meet and greet at Les Stagg Oval, the Cowboys stopped in at Filby's Motors for a signing session on Tuesday afternoon.
"I think doing this lifts the spirits of the community and we really need it. We've been battered around. Hats off to the guys to make the effort to come to the area and see everyone,” Filby's Motors owner Robert Filby said.