But fundraising for charities is everywhere and getting harder. I am sure that if I gave everyone $20 that asked, it would chew up my entire income!
Having participated in 5 Ride to Conquer Cancer Events from October 2012 to December 2013 not only required hard work work and dedication to a training schedule, but it also had me tirelessly raising money. That is where the hard work and lies - trying to take the No's and knock backs to find an illusive Yes. And now in my 3rd year, finding new places to get a Yes is even harder.
I have been humbled by the amount of support and funds raised, but this has come from a very small circle of people. People who have been personally touched. I sat back watching the Good Friday Appeal a couple of weeks back and was amazed at the generosity that individuals and corporations show for this cause. We get to sit and watch stories that break our hearts. The tiniest members of our community, laying in beds and facing treatment that would frighten the toughest of them all. We watch with sympathy as parents cradle their sad faced babies and we cannot help but put our hand in our pocket and try to make the slightest difference to the lives of others. Even as I threw my last $2 into a highway collection bucket, I wished I could have done more.
Personally, I have needed to use the Royal Children's hospital with my daughters. Firstly when Amy was only 16 months old and suffered so badly with gastro that she was admitted for immediate re-hydration as her little body was starting to fail her. Holding our tiny baby down as they inserted a feed tube into her nose was one of the hardest parenting moments we have had. Only 7 months later, she was back to undergo her first local anesthetic ... to remove a tooth she had knocked out. I sat with parents who had the look of fear in their faces as their babies were placed in the hands of medical staff - ready to face something as simple as Amy was having right through to open heart surgery. And then again with Mia when at 6 weeks of age an accidental burn with boiling water saw her having treatment that lasted 6 months. These experiences broke my heart and every Good Friday I am reminded of our short visits to RCH. I have a personal experience and this is why every year I Give That They May Grow.
When I started out fundraising for the Ride to Conquer Cancer, I was fueled with an experience. My Reason to Ride. And as I shared my reason and stories, I got to hear many more from others who had similar stories to share. And most of those stories were met with support and encouragement for what I was doing. But not always.
I will never forget my first attempt at asking for support. I arrived at the local bike shop looking for help. Looking for support. I didn't want a free bike - I just wanted help. I had no idea what I was doing, had no idea what I needed to buy, no idea of the gear etc. I needed support and guidance. But when I walked in and declared that I was doing the Ride To Conquer Cancer and needed help, they saw me as a potential sale, steered me towards the high priced performance road bikes and I knew they never understood the reason why I was riding.
Then about 2 months ago, I learnt that the co-owner of the store now understood 100%. At 35 years old, she was diagnosed with Cancer. Lung, Liver and Brain. Assumed secondary cancer from a previous battle with Melanoma. I knew enough about Cancer that the combination she was fighting was never going to end well. It would take her life.
And on April 16, 2014 my fear for Nicola was right. She lost her battle leaving her husband and 2 little girls to face a life without her. I am heart broken for her. I am heart broken for her family. But worse still, I look into the faces of those close to her and my heart breaks for them because now they understand. I watch the new raw pain they suffer and just wish they didn't have to understand the heartbreak of Cancer. I wish they didn't have to watch Nicola so quickly be taken away. In the prime of her life, the prime of her career as a Councillor working tirelessly for her community - but as a dearly cherished mum, wife, daughter, sister and friend. So quickly Cancer consumed her.
That is the heartbreak of fundraising. It comes with the knock backs. But it also comes with the sadness that no matter how hard we work, how hard we train and how hard our charities then do justice with the financial support they receive, they cannot save everyone. Having to sit through a funeral is the biggest knock back we receive.
In a situation like this, generally there is a flood of support in memory of those lost. It is the support they wished they had given two years ago that may have prevented this. It is support in the hope that the pain they are now suffering will not have to be endured by another family.
And this is what keeps me going. It is what keeps me out there accepting the No's and the knock backs. It is also understanding that everyone has their own reason for that No. I just hope that they never have to understand why I ask.
19/12/1978 - 16/04/2014
Nicola was a committed to making a difference to as many people as she could. And in her death, it is the Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre that will accept donations in memory of Nicola.
I will hold the memory of Nicola close to my heart this year as I complete my Ride To Conquer Cancer rides in Brisbane and Melbourne. My focus is on early detection, prevention and seeking treatment to ensure the best possible odds of beating this disease.