‘My fundraiser was my focus.’
I was diagnosed at the age of 45 after my first ‘birthday’ mammogram. It was a devastating blow as it is for all women I’m sure.
The process from mammogram to biopsies, to operation and reconstruction took an amazingly short space of time. It was a guided rollercoaster and I couldn’t get off.
It was during chemotherapy that I decided to raise some funds for BCFNZ. I needed a distraction from the cards I had been dealt and wanted to give something back for being given a chance to survive.
Had I stayed in my native Scotland where the screening program still remains at 50 years it would have been a very different outcome.
My original idea - a few people in the garden for a party - was soon discarded when I couldn’t decide on which friends helped me more than the others. Instead, we searched for a sympathetic venue which held the estimated 300 guests comfortably.
I own a mobile coffee business with a diverse group of customers, and my occupation certainly aided me in enlisting help – I realised I couldn’t do it on my own so took a cross section of my friends and held a brainstorming session. This is where pulling power of others, their contacts and their skills came to the fore. I had around a dozen women who dedicated all their energy into helping my event be a success, and with that the event snowballed and became a truly amazing night.
The sit-down dinner and drinks was nearly completely sponsored, my daughter’s friends served each table while three of my friends cooked, and we had live entertainment from a pipe band and gypsy guitarists, while everyone ate.
Fundraising was huge; we approached so many companies with “my story” and couldn’t believe how generous and compassionate they were.
We had several ways of letting people spend money on the night, all of which were made easier by an Eftpos company, who provided mobile machines and connected them straight to a bank account.
A traditional raffle was split into four categories – male, female, kids and family – and there were 16 prizes in each category.
Our auction was impressive with 26 items varying in value from around $100 to a package worth $2500. Local tourist/accommodation providers, furniture producers, clothing and whiskies sent over from Scotland were all included. We had an auctioneer from Harcourt’s real estate – he was invaluable.
The biggest success of the night though was “Behind the Boob” – funny and simple. 200 gifts in boxes hidden behind screens, and 200 ‘BOOBS’ numbered and stuck on the screens. Hand over $5, pick a number and get the gift. The range was from a chocolate fish to a Swanndri $250 voucher with everything in-between. I should have made them $10 a go and limited them to one person each – it was a hit and I would be delighted to share this idea with anyone!
My dinner was a gift to the people who supported me over a terrible period of nine months, so I didn’t charge anyone for coming. We probably could have raised more on the night, but my reasoning was based on friendship first and foremost – that’s what pulled me through.
We did manage to raise a sum just short of $22,500 for BCFNZ, which gave me huge pride in the people that took my journey with me and held my hand.