As a young father himself Jamie Soward burst into tears when he heard the tragic tale of Samuel McPaul and asked himself what he could do to help the firefighter's family.
Soward, who met McPaul through family friends in 2010, felt compelled to show his support to the 28-year-old's wife, who is expecting their first child in May.
The Wagga Wagga volunteer firefighter died when a fire tornado overturned a 10-tonne truck at Jingellic, about 110km east of Albury in late December.
The 2010 Dragons premiership winner contacted various sporting organisations and several of the NRL, NBL, AFL and A-League clubs rallied around the cause.
"I met Sam about 10 years ago through some family friends when he came up from Wagga coaching a basketball team," Soward said.
"I was down in Lake Conjola protecting a house down there from the bushfires when it came across the news that he had passed away. We didn't have any reception so it wasn't until a couple of days later when I got home and my stepdad told me and sent through a photo of him and I.
"I burst into tears. It was really sad to see that photo and hear about how tragic that situation was for him. I just felt compelled to do something for his family.
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"Being a new father myself it would be horrific to be fighting and protecting people with an unborn child on the way and then lose your life."
Soward took to social media to kick-start an auction where people can bid for as many jerseys as they like, while there is also an option to donate money via his company details on Twitter.
The bidding commenced on Wednesday night and closes on Friday, February 21 at 9am, in which the former Blues five-eighth said he is overawed by the volume of support shown already.
"The support so far has been incredible," Soward said.
"The way that the NRL community in particular, despite everything they've already done and the initiatives that each club have undertaken, they were more than willing to help out.
"Within about two or three days I had every single club send me a jersey or tell me that they're going to send me one. I couldn't be more thankful."
Trent Robinson has donated a signed Roosters limited addition back-to-back champions jersey, which is one of just 200.
The Sydney Kings, Sydney Swans and Western Sydney Wanderers have also donated signed jerseys.
Soward is auctioning off his own 2016 All Stars jersey, his Penrith Indigenous round jersey and Dragons Women in League round jersey, while his new company Sweet and Soward is donating $500.
"We already had so many people bidding on the jerseys," Soward said.
"There's nothing we can do to take away that pain of losing their loved one but I hope in a small way it can help the family out in any way that it can."