Featured Photo by Marlene Sayson Photographer
The Derrimut and Deer Park Community Association Inc. is a registered charity.
On Saturday July 29th, we ran our first event - a fundraiser for Bella, a girl in our community with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia. The event was held on Saturday the 29th July from 10am to 4pm at the YMCA Derrimut Community Centre! We are deeply grateful to all of the people who supported this event.
As well as raising money for Team Bella and the charities that support her, the event was a celebration of our great community that has come together to support her. It was an opportunity to meet the neighbours, and a day packed with activities and entertainment - a sausage sizzle, meeting Billy the Blood Drop, market stalls, a paper plane competition, raffle, charity auction, and origami were featured.
Since then we have continued our fundraising and awareness work at other events, including the Royal Melbourne Show.
We had three goals for the original fundraiser:
Goal #1 was to raise $10,000.
Our first goal was to raise enough money to be able to pay for a special play space for Bella and her sister Olivia. After the transplant, Bella will be immuno-suppressed and in isolation for some months. When she is allowed to go home she will be very susceptible to infection and illness due to graft versus host disease following transplant. For Bella and Olivia, two sisters who love each other dearly to not be able to play together would be so sad. We had hoped to raise at least enough money to build a playground in the backyard of the family home, which would allow the girls to play together but still ensure Bellas recovery is not compromised, as Bella will be housebound and unable to go the the public parks - one of their favourite things to do together - for some time during her recovery.
We managed to achieve this goal, however every dollar counts. Bella and the family have other financial needs, such as paying for a tutor for Bella while she is unable to return to school during her recovery. With your help, we can continue to make a humble but important contribution to Bella's needs in the coming months.
How can you help?
By purchasing Team Bella merchandise, or by Donating.
Goal #2 was to make 1000 Paper Cranes.
An ancient Japanese legend promises that anyone who has the patience and discipline to fold a thousand origami cranes, also known as a Senbazuru, will be granted a wish by the gods. This story has been popularised in the beautiful children's book Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes, which is the story of Sadako Sasaki, who developed Leukaemia after the Hiroshima bombing in 1945.
Bella has had two Senbazuru made for her before by her Aunty... one when she was first diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia, and the second on her relapse. 5 days after our fundraiser, Bella had a Bone Marrow Transplant. At the fundraiser, as a community, we continued what Bennet, a 10 year old boy in our community who taught himself Origami and kicked off our Senbazuru, started. The Senbazuru was for a special wish to Bella from the community that the transplant and her recovery are a success. It has become a symbol of the community's support for Bella, and the hundreds of people who send her every best wish.
Goal #3 was to save 100 lives.
Blood and Bone Marrow donations have saved Bellas life. Each blood donation takes only an hour, but can save three lives. Our third goal was to have 34 people pledge to donate blood, which would mean that we as a community can save over 100 lives, inspired by Bella. The Australian Red Cross Blood Service (and their mascot, Billy the Blood Drop), were at the fundraiser to answer any questions about blood donations and the Australian Bone Marrow Donor Registry.
We had 33 pledges to donate blood on the day, and three after the event so far. This means that 108 lives will be saved through blood donations, inspired by Bella. Donations are tallied on Red25 (Blood Donation Group) "Team Bella" and within a week of the event, Team Bella has saved 145 lives this financial year to date. Blood donation is critically important to people like Bella. After Bella's first bone marrow transplant was unsuccessful, Blood Transfusions were saving her life because she was unable to produce her own healthy blood.
Blood Donation is so important in our community, and is very quick and easy to do. When you donate blood, please advise that you are on Team Bella and they will add your donation to the group tally!
Our Unstated Goal - bringing the community together!
Please see below some of the pictures from the day - a fantastic day with lots of fun activities, and bringing the community together for a very important cause!
Since July, we have continued our fundraising efforts for Team Bella in order to do more to support Bella, her family, and charities that support her and children like her. We had a stand at the Royal Melbourne Show, and will also be at the Ballarat Show in November. You can also find us at the St Mary's Fete, and the St Lawrence Primary School Community Day.
Your support at these events and online allow us to continue our work to support Bella's needs and families like hers. You can help by purchasing Team Bella merchandise or making a donation here.
You can read about Bella's story in the words of her mum at TeamBella.org