Sammy D Foundation marks 10 years since one-punch death of budding footballer.
7 May 2018 | Samantha Dawes, ABC, SA
Ten years after teenager Sam Davis died in a one-punch attack at a suburban house party, his father Neil says he would do anything to have him back.
"We know he's not going to come back but, now, I'd just do anything to stop this happening to another family," Mr Davis said.
"The boy who hit Sam never thought that he was going to kill him, but that's what happened. And there's no turning back the clock.
"That boy has to live with that for the rest of his life, as well as us having to live with it for the rest of ours."
Sam Davis was a talented young sportsman who in the early hours of May 4, 2008, was struck at a party at beachside Brighton in Adelaide's south.
"He was going into the AFL, he was an A-grade cricketer," Mr Davis said.
"He had his whole life in front of him and one moment of madness and that was taken away."
Reports suggested he was trying to break up a fight when the fatal blow was delivered to his head.
He was rushed to hospital but never regained consciousness. His parents didn't know, but he had nominated to become an organ donor.
"Other people live because of Sam," Mr Davis said. "We get letters and cards — the lady who got Sam's liver couldn't look after her kids and now she can."
Soon after the incident, Sam's parents Neil Davis and Nat Cook — who is now a Labor MP — set up the Sammy D Foundation in his memory.
The foundation aims to prevent similar incidents and eradicate drug and alcohol-fuelled violence, as well as bullying in schools.
Part of the program involves Mr Davis going around to schools and sporting clubs to tell his family's story and advocate for safer partying, as well as better supervision around alcohol.
He has travelled over 200,000 kilometres across South Australia and interstate to deliver more than 2,000 presentations to an estimated 80,000 young people and their parents.
"It could be to the roughest school or the best school. It could be the youth training centres," Mr Davis said.
"Empathy is the hardest thing to teach to young people, but if we could get that we'd have a much better world."
'Cultural change we're looking for'
In the decade since the death of Sam, there have been improvements in the culture around one-punch attacks.
For a start, they are no longer referred to as 'king hits' — a term which critics argue risks glorifying what is an essentially cowardly act.
Mr Davis said that, for the last 18 months, the Sammy D Foundation has also expanded its focus.
"We developed these programs and linked them to the Australian school curriculum. In that way, it's an eight-week program, instead of just going in there the once," he said.
"It's a cultural change that we're looking for."
Naturally, the pain of losing Sam remains, and Mr Davis describes his grief as like being adrift in rough seas.
"Ten years later, I'm in a calm sea but every now and again that hundred foot wave will just come and dump on me for no reason," he said.
But he is convinced his son's loss has helped to save the lives of others by warning young people about the sometimes deadly consequences of out-of-control behaviour.
"We get Facebook messages all the time from young people saying they've stopped someone they know," he said.
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