A FUND-RAISER for the family of a nine-year-old with a life-threatening illness went ahead earlier this month thanks to the generosity of a Kerang business, organisers said.
Kerang District Health had planned a fund-raiser for Meika Gordon, the nine-year-old daughter of nurse Tegan Hare, who was diagnosed late last year with rhabdomyosarcoma, an aggressive childhood cancer.
Tegan and her partner, Kaylem, who live on a farm outside Swan Hill, also have a baby and a toddler, and with Tegan taking leave from work to accompany Meika to hospital in Melbourne and Kaylem staying at home with the younger kids, the family are feeling the financial pressure of dealing with the disease and its treatment.
Kerang health service staff wanted to do something to help.
"We whipped up a fund-raiser, which was in the form of a 'mystery flight' - with a bus serving as a plane," Kerang District Health's Annette Ritchie said. "We were going to use the hospital buses, however, a couple of the drivers ended up unwell and we were stuck without a 'pilot'."
Ms Ritchie then contacted Sheree Millar, of Millar Bus Lines, who immediately agreed to supply a bus for the event.
"She did not hesitate in donating their bus for our use, which brought tears to my eyes as I wasn't expecting such generosity," Ms Ritchie said.
"Driver Bruce Laity also very kindly donated his time to 'fly' us around and was very patient with our needs."
About 50 people boarded the vessel on Friday, April 12 with no idea where they were going.
The 'flight' took the group on a progressive dinner which started with finger food entrees in Hawaii (Reedy Lake) then moved for pizza mains to Italy (a staff member's house in Macorna) and landed for desert back in Australia at the Woolshed in Kerang - "a brillant venue", Ms Ritchie said, which was kindly lent for the occasion by owner Wayne Radcliffe.
According to Ms Ritchie, everybody who took the trip had a great time, and over $2500 was raised for Meika's family.
"During the night we had raffles and games to raise funds as well as the ticket sales for the 'plane'. It was great to have Meika's grandparents and aunty along for the night as well. It has not only raised valuable funds for Meika's family but has been terrific for our staff as well. We all wish Meika well and hope that our contribution will help."
Fund-raising raffle tickets are still on sale at Kerang hospital reception, with donated prizes on offer including a night at the Royal Mail Hotel in Dunkeld, a small laptop, a printer, a trailer load of firewood and a chair made by the Men's Shed.
An online fund-raising page set up for the family has already raised well over $18,000.
Other fund-raising initiatives have taken place at Wakool and Swan Hill.