THE Ponting family were dealt a major blow this year with the passing of six-year-old daughter Hayley from cancer on January 24.
Known as their little "brave butterfly" Hayley's plight touched the hearts of many people in home town Ipswich as well as the transport industry - both communities supported the family through their tough journey.
Hayley battled neuroblastoma, a cancer of the nervous system, since masses were discovered in her abdomen in November 2010.
The family thought it was getting under control but the doctors said it had come back aggressively and only gave Hayley until last Christmas to live.
Hayley fought on though and managed to live to see her sixth birthday and celebrated with friends at McDonald's - something she had always looked forward to.
She also lost her first tooth, a major milestone for little Hayley. Her mother Allison says the Tooth Fairy was able to visit her in several locations - including her Nan's with $5 notes.
"Every day is a different day, every day is a new challenge," said her father Fred just over a month after she died.
"The hardest part about going back to work was the first Friday I came home. Usually she is standing on the balcony - this time she wasn't, that was the hardest part."
Her mother Allison said the family was trying to get back to normal, and that the outlook to life had been profoundly changed.
"We are trying to get back to the normality of life and every day seems to be a new beginning," she explained.
"Life just can't be taken for granted, and life is just too short to worry about little things and you need to enjoy every moment."
The family recalled the generosity of the Ipswich community and the transport industry in providing emotional and financial support, allowing Fred and the family the chance to spend time with Hayley before she died.
Allison said events including a tennis day and a dinner were organised to raise much needed funds for the family.
"The dinner went really well, it raised about $16,000 - it got us out of a lot of trouble," they said.
The family were also invited to the Illawarra and Brisbane Convoy for Kids and gestures like bringing a pony to their house for Hayley to ride, and organised by the girl next door, brought lots of joy in a very hard time.
"Hayley came out from hospital especially to go to the Brisbane Convoy for Kids - and she was there wearing a mask," said her mother.
It is this support that the Ponting family are thankful for.
"We also want to say a big thank you to the Ipswich community," said Allison.
"A lot of people would come up to me in the street and to say I saw you in the QT (Big Rigs' sister publication).
"We pretty much want to give a big thank you for all of the support and all of the help we received," said Hayley's father Fred.
He said a big thank you went to employer Ritchie Beaumont and all the terrific staff at Beaumonts who supported him and held his position throughout Hayley's fight.
Another trucking identity to be thanked is Allan Ross who flew the family down to the Illawarra Convoy for Kids - they found out about the family through Fred's brother who works for the company.
He said while at the convoy Craig Darren organised a digger for the kids to sit on and gave it a bit of a start up and the kids really enjoyed it.
He said that he also needed to thank Kerry Hobbs from Scarcella Partnership based in the NT, a good friend of Fred's from New Zealand, who drove a truck on the day of the funeral and also flew all the way back to Illawarra to do the convoy from the Northern Territory.
We also want to say a big thank you to the Ipswich
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