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20 June 2019
A ‘phenomenal’ effort from Wimmera businesses and residents has helped raise nearly $50,000 for the cancer treatment of Horsham boy Braxton Williams.
Hundreds of people gathered at Horsham’s Victoria Hotel on Sunday for a charity auction to support Braxton and his family, who relocated to Melbourne for treatment after he was diagnosed with a brain tumour in January.
Braxton’s mother, Sarah Lee, was forced to sell her Horsham home to help fund his treatment as the family struggled to make ends meet.
It prompted Horsham real estate agent Rob Dolan to organise a fundraiser entitled ‘Beers and a Bid for Brax’ with a goal of supporting the family through charity Wimmera Against Cancer in Kids, WACK.
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Mr Dolan said the organising committee had hoped to raise between $20,000 and $30,000 dollars, but committee member Zoe Dickerson said organisers had been blown away by the final total – a whopping $49,031.26.
Mrs Dickerson said the figure was achieved through the generosity of both businesses, which donated hundreds of items, and people who made bids.
“A lot of people read Brax’s story and were really touched by it,” she said.
“A lot of people have young kids themselves and something like that is every parent’s worst nightmare.
“Out of the kindness of their own hearts, people wanted to do something in their own way to help.”
Mrs Dickerson said money was raised in a variety of ways. “We had people who came in the morning and said, ‘we can’t stay for the day, but we’d like to do something to help’, and they gave us $100 or $50,” she said.
“There were 230 ‘parmas’ sold on the day, and $10 from every one of those was donated.
“We sold some chocolates as well, which raised another $1200.
“It was the generosity of people who bid on some of the bigger items that was the most significant, but there were plenty of little things here and there that added up.”
Mrs Dickerson said popular items included a ‘blokes weekend away’ in Robe that sold for $2000, a basketball signed by NBA player Matthew Dellavedova that went for more than $300, Medallion Club tickets to an AFL game donated by ACE Radio and several signed AFL guernseys, which went for hundreds of dollars each.
Money raised on Sunday will be donated to WACK, which can distribute it to Ms Lee for Braxton’s treatment as required.
Any money that is ultimately unused for treatment will be put towards refurbishing rooms at charity Ronald McDonald House, which provides temporary accommodation for the families of hospitalised children.
Mrs Dickerson said Ms Lee had been ‘blown away’ by the support of the Wimmera community. “Obviously it goes a long way to helping her with Brax’s expenses and treatment and rehabilitation going forward,” she said. “She’s extremely grateful. It was a really emotional day for everybody on the committee.
“We’re all really close to Sarah and Brax and we are invested in their situation. Emotions were pretty high and I think most of us shed a few tears at some stage during the day.
“There were so many people there and the support was amazing – it just blew us all away.
“People were more than happy to dig deep, and we’re extremely grateful for that.
“I can’t remember anything like this ever happening in Horsham before.”
– Colin MacGillivray