How 3 families are honouring their child’s memory through fundraising
We are privileged to share stories from some of the amazing families who are raising funds in memory of their children who passed away from cancer.
The Lodge family – Maddison’s Sunflowers
“Our daughter Maddison (Maddie) was diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma on 21 February 2021 when she was just four years old. She sadly passed away eight months later on 22 October.
When Maddie passed, we wanted to honour her memory. We have a beautiful memory of Maddie seeing sunflowers and saying that they made her feel happy because they were bright like the sun and magical looking. So selling sunflower brooches to raise money for Child Cancer Foundation felt quite fitting.
Our inspiration came from a desire to help other families going through one of the toughest journeys a family will ever have to experience. When children go through treatment it seriously opens your eyes and changes the way you think.
Maddie was such a kind, caring, loving soul who always put others before herself, so our goal is to raise funds to help support other families in her honour. We hope everyone who purchases them has the same excitement for sunflowers as Maddie did.”
The Wood family – Frankie to the Rescue
“Frankie was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive type of brain cancer in December 2020, just prior to his third birthday. Sadly, there were limited treatment options for him, but he went through six weeks of radiation treatment in the hope that it would buy us some time. He passed away at home on 24 April 2021.
We wanted to do something in Frankie’s memory and felt we were in a position to help. It’s one of the many ways we feel connected to Frankie, who loved everything rescue related (hence the name!). Our lives have taken a path we could never have imagined, and this feels like a way to recognise that and help people who are going through something similar.
Through Frankie to the Rescue, we provide a range of activities/toys for children of all ages via Starship Oncology and Palliative Care and the Nurse Maude Paediatric Palliative Care team in Christchurch. We’ve also provided families with parking vouchers for the hospital, vouchers for ready-made meals to be delivered to home, as well as parent packs and gifts for siblings.
We feel passionate about all New Zealanders having access to quality palliative care, regardless of where they live. We started out with the goal of supporting children with a cancer diagnosis but soon learnt about the limited support for children with a non-cancer diagnosis, so we made the call to broaden our support but focus on the palliative care space.
Doing work like this brings us some light in amongst those dark moments and is one of the ways we can hold Frankie close and support people going through the most challenging of times. Our seven-year-old daughter Scarlett has secured the role of ‘Senior VP of Toy Purchasing’ and has been really involved in this with us which also helps her to feel close to Frankie. She has a knack for spotting Frankie’s favourite Paw Patrol and Fireman Sam toys when we’re out shopping.
Something we’re very aware of is that there is no end point to grief, and everyone will have their own way of living and grieving and remembering their special person. We will always carry this heaviness and pain with us, but over time we’re growing around our grief.”
Hayden and Kezia Kerr – Pub quizzes
“Caitlin’s cancer was a massive shock. One Saturday, she was a normal teenage girl playing netball and getting player of the day. A week later, she was being urgently flown by Life Flight from Wellington to Christchurch for what was to be the start of over two years of chemotherapy and radiology.
Caitlin impressed everyone with her amazing sassy nature, sense of humour, love for life and care toward others. We were lucky that she was still fighting, laughing and loving life, right until the very last few days in January 2022.
Throughout her fight Caitlin was always trying help others, and this included CCF, whose support she was very thankful for. A few months before she passed away, Caitlin and her school mates did a slushy stall and raised around $200 for CCF. After she passed away, we found a note saying she wanted her leftover good toys to go to CCF so other kids could use them.
Caitlin used to love going to pub quizzes with us, so it was natural to hold a quiz for CCF in her memory. The first quiz was at our church on a Sunday lunchtime. We sold tickets and cooked Caitlin’s favourite foods. Question: Guess how much mac ‘n’ cheese we cooked? Thanks to the generosity of around 40 participants, we raised over $1,000.
The second was on a Sunday night at Aro Bar in Upper Hutt, which we decked out with disco balls. We sold tickets and people could buy answers, and the bar donated some great prizes. It was a really fun night – we had about 170 people there – and we ended up raising over $2,800. We were very thankful to have our friend Sam, owner of Gee Quiz, who donated his time to run both quizzes for us.
While it’s great being able to help CCF and support the great work they do, doing this has also been really good for us. We’ve been able to focus some of our grief into doing something fun and positive, as well as keeping Caitlin’s spirit alive with something she loved. We are hoping to make it an annual thing.
We’d encourage anyone who sadly finds themself in this position to find their own ‘thing’ (whatever hobby or activity that might be) and do something with it. Hopefully, like us, you will find it helpful to both yourself and others.
(Answer: 25 kg. Yes, we were eating leftovers for ages!)”
Read more stories like this in our latest issue of Sharing magazine.
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