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Op-Ed - Feast of Fundraising Served by Community

Thursday 25 November 2021, The Examiner

(Pictured with McDonalds crew members Nepheli Papavasileiou and Zoe Miller, with Jules and Glenn from LAFM at McHappy Day 2021.)

It is said that charity begins at home, but it should not end there. Some of the work that is done in our communities by charitable organisations and fundraising groups goes under the radar and I’m always delighted to find out more about what they do and how they help.

I had a lot of fun a couple of weekends ago at South Launceston McDonalds participating in the Ronald McDonald House Charity McHappy Day. Ronald McDonald House Charities support the ever-changing needs of seriously ill children and their families, as when a child is diagnosed with an illness, it impacts the whole family with lives often turned upside down. This is why RMHC keep families close together and close to the care their child needs by providing accommodation and services in one of the 18 Ronald McDonald Houses, 19 RMHC Family Rooms or 5 Family Retreats around Australia.

Families often have to travel from home with little notice, to receive the medical care their seriously-ill child needs. For some families, this is very far from home. When a child is receiving life-saving treatment in hospital, it is often the case that only one parent can stay with them at a time. When you’ve got a seriously-ill little one, the last thing that a close family member needs to think about is where they are going to stay and how they are going to pay for it. This is where McHappy Day comes into the mix: $2 from every Big Mac sold on the day goes to RMHC, silly socks can be bought for $5 a pair and donations can be made.

At McDonalds South Launceston McHappy Day we had plenty of activities on for the children, lots of help from the staff and organisers (including LAFM’s Jules and Glen plus Channel 7’s Tom and Annie) as well as customers. By the time I had finished up after lunch, we had sold out of silly socks and made a very impressive amount to donate to RMHC. One lady with her two grandchildren was so impressed with the service and the children had so much fun, she donated $50. This is exactly what McHappy Day is about and McDonalds franchisees Kim and Steve Nicholas went from store to store during the day and their efforts in running the event are worthy of commendation.

Another recent event was the Rotary Club of Central Launceston’s Sally’s Ride, which raises money for various organisations year to year. Sally’s Ride started in 2002 when Sally Fletcher rode 1,400 kilometres solo around Tasmania raising funds for mental health in Tasmania. In 2009, in conjunction with the Rotary Club of Central Launceston, the event was expanded to create the Tamar Valley Cycle Challenge.

There are a number of cycling events, so this fundraiser caters to riders of every skill level or fitness. There is a 10km family ride, a 25km recreational ride and challenges of 45km, 70km and 100km around the picturesque Tamar Valley.

This year, funds raised are being donated to the Mish, which is City Mission’s hub for youth and young adult services, offering programs for young people who may be withdrawn from peers, family and friends or disengaged from education or employment. The Rotary Club of Central Launceston put in countless hours of work, before and on the day, and produce a fantastic event that hundreds of people enjoy every year.

Finally, the Hadspen Cricket aka the Chieftans, established in 1987-88 as the Sidmouth XI Cricket Club led by the great Syd Holland, put on their annual fundraiser ‘Champions of Sport’ luncheon with monies going into the exceptional work they do in getting people active, socially engaged and playing the great sport of cricket.

This year the Champions of Sport was held at the Tailrace Centre, emceed by the very entertaining John X and featured appearances by AFL player Jack Riewoldt, axe-legend David Foster, Brisbane Lions Coach Chris Fagan, VFL footballer Garry Baker and Australia’s Tokyo 2020 Olympics Chef de Mission Ian Chesterman. As always the event was well-attended, with 360 guests and the extremely hardworking committee did a tremendous job of getting excellent guests despite being hampered by Covid restrictions and quarantines.

With five sides fielded in the Tasmanian Cricket League (Premier League, A-Grade, B-Grade, C-Grade and Female T-20 Boom), there are also junior programs for U16/U14/U12 boys and girls, Master Blasters and Junior Blasters. So many sports teams, clubs and leagues work tirelessly in our communities and Hadspen Cricket Club is certainly high amongst them.

We are incredibly lucky to have so many community-minded organisations which work so hard to raise funds and make a difference in the lives of others. These are just a few of the organisations and initiatives that are being run in our community and I sincerely congratulate everyone involved.

Rosemary Armitage MLC

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