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Diamonds & Pearls

Inside the Diamonds Dinner

My Story

life beyond cancer


HAPPY FATHER’S DAY PLUS: We chat to superstar dannii minogue


Challenge Fact File ABOUT CHALLENGE… Challenge is a not-for-profit organisation that provides daily support for children and families living with cancer from the time of diagnosis, through treatment and beyond.



il to n C a m p S n oo ke re d a t H a m



Editor Jaime Clarke The Leuk Saga Mark Knight Design Spike Creative 132 Gwynne Street Richmond, Victoria 3121 Ph: (03) 9427 9500 Cover Image Baby Jack celebrates Father’s Day with dad Darren

Challenge Supporters:

We operate the Challenge Family Centre where cancer patients and their families can access an extensive range of nonmedical support services. The Centre is the first of its kind in Australia providing such services in a single location and underpins everything we do. Challenge also provides support to kids undergoing treatment in hospital with iPads, gaming consoles, internet access, family activities and celebrity visits as well as camps, information seminars, tickets to concerts and events, holiday accommodation, parent retreats and social activities, home help and scholarship opportunities.

Kic k in g g o a ls w th e Bo m b e r s it h Chief Executive Officer David Rogers

Once the medical needs have been addressed, the wellbeing of the entire family, including siblings, is our fundamental concern. Through our programs and services, we aim to make life easier as they deal with fighting their illness.

All donations, advertising, story contributions and editorial enquiries should be directed to the Challenge Office on (03) 9329 8474 or emailed to The views, opinions and advice expressed in this magazine are those of the authors and contributors, and not necessarily those of, or endorsed by, the Challenge Committee. All materials appearing in this magazine remain the property of Challenge and are not to be reproduced without the permission of the Chief Executive Officer.

Inside Challenge Our magazine is a great way to keep children, families, volunteers and members of the community up-to-date on what’s happening at Challenge. It provides us with an opportunity to: • Learn about each other • Exchange information • Share our experiences • Develop friendships • Keep our supporters and the community informed about our programs

To Help You can help Challenge in a variety of ways. You can make a donation, volunteer your time, donate goods and services, or organise an auction item for our next fundraising event. Your business can also make a difference by incorporating Challenge in any fundraising programs. You can even help just by talking about Challenge and by letting people know who we are and what we do! Donations to Challenge are tax deductible. Whether it is a donation of two dollars or twenty dollars, you can claim it on your tax. Cheques should be made payable to Challenge cancer support network and sent to: Challenge 529-535 King Street West Melbourne, Victoria, 3003



Bu c k s d r o ps into th e Slu m b e r Pa r t y

3 Inside Challenge

Contents What’s Inside? Regulars


Parent Support

4 Bloke in Charge

20 Having a Blast at Hamilton Camp

40 Let’s Walk and Talk

5 Upcoming Challenge Events

25 Tale of Two Junior Camps

41 DUC Club Poker Night

6 Head2Head with Tom Gleisner 8 A Minute With… Dannii Minogue

42 Just for Mums... Fundraising

9 Come and Play

30 Diamonds and Pearls

10 Hospital Happenings

32 Erin’s Special Day In May 33 Time of Your Life Ball 2012

Activity Days

34 Victorian Tank Services Golf Day

16 Staying up Late at the Slumber Party

35 Michaela’s 15 Minutes of Fame...

18 A Time to Be Brave

35 Team Callum

19 Wonderful Williamstown Boat Day Services

43 A Mum’s Retreat...

Out in the Community 44 Making Waves in Melton 45 Teen Night at Galactic Circus 45 Let’s Celebrate! 46 Dancing with the Stars 47 Walking Onto the Ground with My Beloved Bombers

36 Mellow Times at Melon’s Cottage 37 Taking Time Out at Trevor Barker House 38 Dreaming of Diamond Beach 39 Magical Music Therapy

Features Page

Justin Amor has lived through some of the worst that cancer could throw at him and has come out happy and healthy on the other side. Read his educational and inspiring story of courage.

what’s inside


My Story



Bloke in Charge As I look through the pages of this magazine I reminisce about where Challenge has come from and what it is striving to achieve. Behind the scenes a lot of work is going into the new Challenge Family Centre, trying to get like-minded people involved. We hope in the next month to announce some new services that we believe will assist families and their extended family and friends. The new Playgroup facilities are wonderful and the opportunity for young children to attend a Playgroup environment without worrying about colds and other illnesses is tremendous. There is no cost to attend Challenge Playgroup and Sonia does an exceptional job running two sessions a week. If you are the parent of a patient or sibling aged between 2 and 5 years (or a year either side) we welcome you to attend. The city Playgroup is held during school term on Wednesday mornings from 10am until 12pm at Challenge and the Frankston session is held on Friday mornings from 10am until 12pm. While you are at the Challenge Family Centre for Playgroup, why not make it an extra special visit by having some fun with Bec, our music therapist? Bec has settled in well and would love to introduce everyone to the myriad of benefits that music therapy brings. Give the office a call and book in a session. You never know, we might produce the next X-Factor winner! Speaking of X-Factor stars, lucky Amy had the chance to meet up with Johnny Ruffo at a taping of Dancing with the Stars recently. You can read her story on page 46.

We knew Amy liked Dancing with the Stars because she had written it on her profile sheet. The importance of your profile sheets can never be overstated and knowing what you like helps us to tailor our services to suit individual needs. Throughout your journey your likes and dislikes will change; make sure you keep us updated so we can deliver the best opportunities to you and your family. Yvonne is waiting by the phone for your call! On page 12, you will read a remarkable story about Justin Amor, who this year is celebrating 20 years since his initial diagnosis. After seeing the story of Jarrod Lyle, Justin’s proud new wife wanted to share his inspirational journey and sent a photo of a happy and healthy Justin by her side on their wedding day earlier this year. We followed Justin up so we could share his full story with you. We’d love to hear the stories of other Challenge members, and not only will you be inspiring others, but you will also offer hope to newly diagnosed families. There are a number of other inspirational stories throughout this edition, of people who are helping us in one way or another. In fact, Challenge only exists because of people deciding to make a difference – with camps, activities, or in raising funds. My thanks must go to all of these people, along with the many people who have organised an event to help support Challenge. To Jade Barr and her Team W Committee, congratulations on your very hard work and the success that came from that. You can read more about their Time of Your Life Ball on page 37. One of the things that I am constantly asked is how people can assist our organisation. Often, some of the groups and individuals who have supported Challenge throughout much of the organisation’s 30 years find it difficult

to continue their support, with many changes taking place in their own lives. The challenge for us then, is to find new people and resources that will enable us to continue delivering the camps, activities and other support to our members on a regular basis. Therefore, if while reading Inside Challenge, you feel that you or somebody that you know may be in a position to assist in any way, please let us know. Assistance does not only need to come in the form of monetary donations to Challenge but people’s time, along with goods or services are just as important, valuable and are always appreciated. Thank you once again to everyone who has contributed to this edition of Inside Challenge, and indeed those that have contributed to make the stories possible! I hope that if your football team has made the Grand Final, they win, and good luck to Challenge Patron Nathan Buckley and his Collingwood Pies in their finals campaign. I hope you enjoy reading this magazine. A lot of hard work has gone into putting it together, and if you have any stories, photos or other things you would like to see in the next issue, please send them in. Until the next Challenge camp, event or activity, please keep safe, stay happy and I look forward to catching you and your family soon.

David Rogers, Chief Executive Officer


S e p te m b e r

Sat 6th

Retreat Mums Relaxation

Sat 8th – Sun 9th th Urban Camp Sun 23rd – Fri 28

Sun 11th

Sun 7th

Challenge Ball

Movie Day – M adagascar 3 Berwick Mum s Lunch Sat 13th – Su n 14th Motor bike Camp Fri 19th Ride 4 Kids Fundraising Lu ncheon Sat 20th – Su n 21st Mums Relaxation Re treat Sun 21st Ride 4 Kids Motocross ev ent Sat 13th

N o ve m b e r

Sat 10th

Inside Challenge

Oc t o be r

Morningto n Mums Lunch

New Volun teer Trainin Fri 16th – g Mon 19th Cops N K ids Camp Sun 25th Walk and Talk (for bereav ed families)


as Party e Christm Challeng lf Day llenby Go Sat 1st Robert A r e n Din and Gala Mon 10th p Surf Cam un 16th S – th 4 Fri 1




Nykia Butler Age: 11 School: Year 4 at Corowa South Primary

Head 2 Head Siblings Rachael (17), Teagan (8), Nicholas (6) and Mikayla (4) Pets We’ve got 2 dogs, a cat, a rabbit and some fish. Hobbies I like to draw and write and play games. Favourite Foods Sausage rolls, pies and fruit.

When were you diagnosed? April this year. I kept passing out, getting dizzy and was lacking in energy. They thought it was tonsillitis but then I had more tests at the Armidale Hospital and they said it was leukaemia. One of my friends had leukaemia so I sort of knew what it was. What happened next? I went to the Children’s Hospital in Sydney for more blood tests then they sent me to the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne. They said it was the best hospital in the world. It’s also closer to home, just 3 hours away.

What’s been the hardest thing about having treatment? Being really tired at the end of the day but not being able to fall asleep in the car. How did you find out about Challenge? Micka came round and told me about it. The Slumber Party is my first Challenge activity. What advice would you give to someone else about to start treatment? Learn to entertain yourself. iPads are good. And always think positive.

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Head 2 Head Siblings My brother James who is 12. Pets I’m getting a guinea pig soon! We had one before but it died. Hobbies I did hip-hop for a year and I plan to start jazz dancing soon. I like watching TV, especially Grey’s Anatomy and Glee. Favourite Food Lasagne. My Mum makes it best.

When did you first get sick? March 2011. I lost vision in my left eye. They thought it was inflammation of the optic nerve but when the medicine didn’t work I was sent to the Royal Children’s Hospital. They told me I had osteosarcoma. I had no idea what that meant at the time. I was only 12! What was it like having treatment? I didn’t like it at first, missing a lot of school and my friends. Luckily my friends were able to come and visit. Trying to sleep while you are feeling sick is not easy, and I hated feeling stuck at hospital when I wanted to be back home. I learned it was important to stay on top of your medication so you don’t feel sick.

How did you find out about Challenge? Micka came round and explained what Challenge did, gave us a form. We started getting tickets to the football (I follow St Kilda) but I was too sick to go on any camps until the start of this year when I went on the Waterskills Camp. It was great to meet new people and try things like surfing. What advice would you give to someone else about to start treatment? Stay calm and don’t stress out over things, feel good even though you have cancer and it seems like no one else does, don’t feel left out of what your friends are doing. And stay on top of your medication!

M.J. (Mary-Jo) Saliba Age: 13 (turning 14 in November) School: Year 8 at Thomas Carr College in Hoppers Crossing. REGULARS



A Minute With... Dannii Minogue What’s your favourite show-biz memory? DM: There are a few that come to mind... Madonna let me use a backing track to one of my favourite songs of hers, so that I could do a ‘mash up’ with one of my songs. She has never granted another artist permission to do this, and she has been an idol I have followed since I was a teenager. Recently Justin Beiber was in Melbourne for his promo tour and he came to perform on my show, Australia’s Got Talent. The whole studio was in security lockdown and everyone was overexcited… even the fans that were waiting at the gate who couldn’t even get in! During the performance of his song, ‘If I Was Your Boyfriend’ he jumped off the stage and ran up to me, grabbed my hand and sang right into my eyes. I guess just about every girl in Australia would dream of a moment like that. I turned bright red and didn’t know where to look, but it was really fun.

Do you ever get nervous on live TV? DM: No I never get nervous, I just love the rush of adrenalin that live TV gives me. It is always totally thrilling to know that anything can happen…..and it usually does! I grew up doing live TV when I was younger on Young Talent Time. Back then all TV was live, so there wasn’t a choice; and I think that was a great training ground for me. What’s your tip for singers aspiring to be super stars? DM: Just aspire to be the best singer, and if you are great, you will become a superstar. I find it strange that the new generation want to be famous, or stars, rather than choosing a profession. So much has changed in just one generation! Tell us about a couple of the things you have done with Challenge? DM: I have been lucky enough to visit families in hospital, and attend cool events like the sleepover at the Hilton. For me family is everything, so I love meeting the whole gang. Nobody gets through cancer without a team of family and friends to help them. What’s the best thing about being a mum? DM: I love seeing this little person evolve, and there is nothing better than when he says, “I love you.”

What advice has your Mum given you that you have never forgotten? DM: I remember as a little girl mum would say, “Be nice.” It is so simple, but doing the smallest kind act for someone can really change their day (or mine!). When I have visited the hospital, all I am doing is saying hello and being nice, and the effect it can have can change someone’s whole day. So I never forget this bit of advice. You can never go wrong with this, only do good. What do you do in your spare time? (If you have any spare time, that is!) DM: I love watching shows like Downton Abbey and Got To Dance UK. I read when I can. I love an autobiography and am starting on one about a famous fashion icon called Diana Vreeland. I find cooking relaxing and I love cooking for family and friends. I buy lots of cookbooks and try a new recipe each week. What’s the biggest challenge you have overcome? DM: I would say the biggest challenge for me is acceptance of life. Sometimes things have happened to me or my family that make me think thoughts like, “Why?” It is tough when there is not an answer, and it doesn’t seem fair. When life doesn’t seem fair, I have learnt not to fight against the tide so to speak, and the more I have been able to accept what is happening, I have been able to make positive changes to overcome or cope with the situation. How do you keep in touch with your fans? DM: The fastest and most immediate way is through social media. Twitter is instant, I love blogging on my webpage www. and I’m old fashioned, in that I adore ‘snail mail’... real post!

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Come and Play Challenge Playgroup at the Challenge Family Centre has resumed this term on a new day: Wednesday. We have welcomed some new families who are enjoying participating in this wonderful program. Our playgroup is not just for patients, and we have families that attend specifically to bring siblings who are under school age. The happy and positive environment also has a ripple effect on the parents, who enjoy meeting, having a chat and watching their children play happily together. Our Frankston playgroup also operates every Friday at 39 Ebdale Street Frankston. What a joy for us to see the children blossom and enjoy the value of ‘play’. Play-doh is always a favourite with our budding masterchefs, and the creativity shines through in their paintings. It is exciting to see their

friendships develop as they beam with smiles when their friends arrive.

We have also been fortunate to have Challenge volunteer Nicole visit regularly to provide a drama, music and movement session. Nicole brought along her dragon to take us on a mystical tale, complete with costumes, songs and games. We look forward to her next visit. Birthday parties at play group are also very special and did I mention how fabulous the morning tea and cappuccinos are?!!! Please feel free to join us on Wednesdays or Fridays (during school terms) or call the office on (03) 9329 8474 for more information. We would love to welcome you to Challenge Playgroup.



We loved being caught up in Olympic fever. The children took pleasure and pride making gold medals and Australian flags. We had roller painting and balloon printing in the mighty green and gold and our future Olympians joined in our miniOlympics with our obstacle course involving the mini trampoline, balance beams, riding horses, and throwing bean bags into the rings. The children have also enjoyed taking on the role

of ‘Mr Wolf’ in ‘What’s the time Mr Wolf?”. The sound of their laughter is very infectious to all parents and the Challenge staff.


Hospital Happenings Not much has happened in hospital, it’s been pretty quiet really and Micka has been able to enjoy a few months of long lunches and lots of coffees down at Zinc Café... yeah right! tidying up those well chewed nails, and we all give thanks for the beautiful calming voice of Kerrie, who reads to our kids every week. We have brought back Trampoline to the ward and the ice cream has been devoured with much pleasure. Our friends at Trampoline’s Brunswick Street store kindly put together a great range of flavours for our families to enjoy and it doesn’t matter what time of day we come in, it’s always popular, with not a drop of ice cream left at the end!

The ward has been a buzz and as I write this we are in the middle of Olympic fever. Check out the article on the visit from the Essendon footy players, who helped add to the Olympic atmosphere when they came in. We had many gold medallists and new world marks set throughout the fortnight with way too many highlights for the highlight reel! It was a good fortnight of activities organised and run by Challenge and the Education Department. I don’t say it lightly when I say thank you to our regulars! Thank you to Andrew Martin for continuing to excite the palate with his delicious cooking for our monthly Parent Dinners, to Trang and Trading Faces for relaxing the mums and dads as well as

Cooking activities have also been a popular choice of late, with hundreds of cupcakes being made and eaten in the last couple of months. We were offered a challenge by a nurse and both Mia and Bronwyn took up this challenge. The challenge: create a chicken cupcake. No, not a cupcake made out of chicken, (that would just be wrong!), but a cupcake that’s decorated to look like a chicken. Sounds easy enough but the execution of it was not as

easy as we thought. It was a lot of fun to make though, and tasted pretty good too. Challenge has also run a couple of very successful parent afternoon teas too. They are relaxed and a great chance to meet some other parents from the ward. At the very least it’s good to get out of the room and have a change of scenery from the four walls. While not many trusted Micka’s coffee making skills, they all liked the assortment of cakes on offer and in both cases we had more than a dozen parents come along for a chat. Thanks to everyone for creating such a buzz and an enjoyable afternoon tea. If you would like to borrow an iPad with full Internet access, PS3, Xbox 360 or just watch a movie, make sure you find or ask for a Challenge person on the ward and we’ll be sure to look after you. We’ll always try our best to make sure you aren’t bored and have something to do.

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Bombs Away! Challenge has been very fortunate throughout the years to bring in a range of celebrities and sports stars to visit the kids on the ward, with our latest guests being some of the Essendon Football Club. Ricky Dyson, Stewart Crameri and Brent Stanton took a couple of hours out of their busy training schedules to visit some of our Bomber fans and stopped to test their skills in one of our Olympic activities along the way. While Stewart rose above the rest, Brent and Ricky bombed out of the competition, outshone by a couple

of our very own, well practised pint-sized Olympians. The boys took defeat well though, and were great sports. Carlton fan Darcy gritted his teeth and was very polite as the three Bombers entered his room. Brooke on the other hand was pleasantly surprised when they woke her

up from an afternoon nap, and greeted them with open arms! Thanks to Ricky, Stewart and Brent for giving up their time to help make the kids’ afternoon a little more fun! Best of luck for the rest of the year boys and keep those hammys out of trouble‌




My Story

Ke vin S h e e d y w h il e I wa s inwa s a ll o w e d a q u ic k vis it is o ti o n fo ll o w in g m y b o n e m a r r ola w tr a n s p la n t By Justin Amor

It was 1992 and I was a healthy and active 8-year-old boy with my whole life ahead of me. Little did I know that things were about to change and my life would never be the same again. The initial signs that something was wrong were three little lumps on the side of my neck. My mum, who is a nurse, initially picked them up. Mum was concerned so she took me along to the doctor and I think they initially thought it was something glandular. The doctor sent us away advising us to keep an eye on the lumps and if there were any changes, to come back and see him. Otherwise he would see us in three months.

Mum and Dad said they didn’t feel they could tell me at the time, so they got our family doctor to come around to our home and break the news to me. Unfortunately he didn’t give me the full story; simply that I’d be going down to Melbourne for further tests. I knew something was wrong because all of mum and dad’s family and friends had come around to visit the night before we headed to Melbourne.

I’m not sure how long it was after that first initial doctor’s appointment, but one morning I woke up and the three lumps had grown and formed into one big lump on the side of my neck, about the size of half an orange.

The next thing I can remember is arriving at the oncology ward at the Royal Children’s Hospital and seeing a heap of bald kids hooked up to drips and machines. I instantly knew this was serious. The night I was admitted was mum and dad’s wedding anniversary, but they had totally forgotten about it because of what was going on. The date was the 7th September 1992, a day I will never forget.

Straight away I was taken to the doctor and he ordered for bloods to be taken. As a result of the blood test I was booked in for a lumpectomy to remove the lump on my neck. They sent the tissue away to be tested and found that I had a cancer called Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL).

ALL is a cancer of the white blood cells.

I can still remember my first lumbar puncture - I was so scared.

A lumbar puncture is where you lie still while a very small needle is inserted between two bones of your spine and a small amount of spinal fluid is withdrawn to check for cancer in your central nervous system.

I think the biggest thing I was scared of was the unknown. For me, not knowing what was happening made me really apprehensive and I remember just holding my dad’s hand and squeezing as hard as I could.

One of the nurses on the cancer ward tried to explain things to me in terms that I might understand. He said that not all the kids in the cancer ward had the same cancer; some had ALL like me, some had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, etc. He said that each cancer gets treated differently for each different person, so what happens for one person will not necessarily happen for another and the best thing I could do was to just focus on what was happening to me.

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Being from country Victoria, we were fortunate to have Ronald McDonald House as our home away from home during the time I was being treated and it was great to come “home” after the three and a half hours it took to travel from Horsham. On days I was having treatment we would arrive at the RCH, go straight in for a full blood examination

Doctors do this to get a total picture of how the child is reacting to their treatment and their illness.

and then go straight up stairs to wait for the doctor to see us before having chemotherapy treatment.

Some days were longer than others, especially when I had to have a drip or several treatments on the one day. We would walk out of the hospital at about 3pm, exhausted, and hop in the car for the long drive home. In 1994, after two years of chemo, I was told that my treatment was complete, but we would still need to come back and have regular blood tests to ensure the cancer hadn’t come back. At least I wouldn’t have to have any more lumber punctures or bone marrow aspirates. Or so I thought… For 18 months I was treatment-free. Then I had a routine blood test, which returned with some abnormalities. A sense of dread instantly came over me and all I could think about were the things I would have to go through again - all the needles, the blood tests, etc. In my head I kept asking, why me? Why me?

Chemotherapy treatment uses drugs to kill or slow the growth of cancer cells. Chemotherapy can stop cancer cells growing and multiplying. Unfortunately whilst the drugs are harming the abnormal cancer cells, they affect the healthy fast growing cells such as hair cells and cells lining the mouth, which is why many people experience hair loss and sore mouths during their chemo treatment. However these cells can better repair the damage caused by the chemotherapy and will reproduce quickly.

My worst nightmare had come true and in January 1996 it was confirmed that I had relapsed.

Relapse means that the cancer has returned.

We started chemo straight away and after a little while the doctors started talking about the possibility of a bone marrow transplant. The doctors suggested that we should start testing family members to see if there might be a possible match. Unbelievably, both my older brother and sister were perfect matches and after some more testing it was decided that my sister would be my bone marrow donor.

A bone marrow transplant (BMT) is where healthy bone marrow is taken from the hip of a known or unknown donor and is then transfused into the patient, which looks a lot like a blood transfusion. A BMT is a lengthy and isolating treatment method that may involve a long hospitalisation.



In 1997, after another year of chemo, we began to prepare for the transplant. In order to do this I had to go and have radiation.

Radiation is when high energy X-rays, gamma rays or electrons are used to kill cancer cells in a specific part of the body. It is used because it reaches areas of the body that surgery may not and often has fewer side effects.

After the radiation treatment and heavy doses of chemo to kill off my own bone marrow “factory”, I was isolated and received a bag of my sister’s healthy bone marrow through an intravenous drip. After the transplant I had to remain in isolation for about 10 months. I was allowed to go home, but not allowed to return to school due to my low immunity so I missed most of Year 8, returning in October 1997.

Cancer treatment kills off good cells along with bad, meaning the immune system can be severely compromised and infections can be contracted much more easily.

I wa s s o p roud t the Olymp o be chosen to run with ic torch in 2000 Considering all of this, I still had a pretty regular childhood, and didn’t miss out on too much. I still played my sports (tennis, football and basketball). I remember on two occasions turning up to the Children’s for treatment with a broken arm, and when the doctors asked how it had happened and I told them from football, I don’t think they were too impressed! Looking back now, my direction in life really changed when I had the opportunity to meet Jim Stynes at a workshop. Jim asked us all some questions, like “What do you want to be remembered for?” and “What will it say on your tombstone?” He asked for people to come forward to the front of the stage and to give their answers. I remember that I suddenly felt an urge to go forward and I said that I wanted to be remembered for inspiring people. He asked why I thought I inspired people and I explained what I’d been through. After this it was clear to me that I wanted to help people and I decided to pick up psychology in my final years at school. After Year 12, I was accepted into the Social Work course at RMIT. I loved it, and it was great to be surrounded by like-minded people who all wanted to study and work to make a difference. Since finishing at University I have worked as a social worker in many different roles, including Youth Justice,

Drug and Alcohol Counselling and Youth Homelessness. I have also spent some time working with the aboriginal people in Broome in Western Australia. Other achievements since my illness that I am really proud of are being chosen to run with the Olympic Torch in 2000, walking the Kokoda Track and raising money and travelling across to Cambodia to help build houses. I have also travelled around Australia over a period of 15 months, and now I am coaching and playing in a local football side. With my two brothers and my sister standing next to me in April 2012, I married the girl of my dreams Louise, who I had started dating in 2009. I am so lucky to have found such a caring, supportive and generous person to share the rest of my life with. Looking back at this amazing celebration, and on my life as a whole, I couldn’t be more proud of those who have been by my side every step of the way. My parents were simply amazing in the way that they supported me and I cannot ever thank them enough. Every appointment, every needle, and every blood test - they were there. I remember the hours and hours of travel up and down the highway, and I cannot imagine how heartbreaking it would be to see

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your own child have to go through so much pain. I know for them, being able to see me grow up and achieve so much and to now get married, has made it all worthwhile. Since my transplant it hasn’t always been smooth sailing. In 2010 I had another setback, when I had to have my lower lip removed because of a squamous cell carcinoma (a form of skin cancer). Sadly I also lost a couple of friends I’d made while I was receiving treatment and I continue to think about them and their families every day. The best thing I can do to honour their memory is to live my life to the fullest. I will never forget them.

This year marks the 20th anniversary since I was first diagnosed and 15 years since my bone marrow transplant. I look forward to the next chapter of my life with my wife, as we continue to strive to make a difference in this world.

Justin’s wife Louise says: “Hi, I just thought I would share with you a photo of our recent wedding. My husband Justin Amor was first diagnosed with ALL in 1992 at age 8. He underwent two years of chemotherapy at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne (3.5 hours away), was in remission for 18 months after his treatment, but then unfortunately he relapsed in 1996 at age 12. This saw Justin undergo another year of chemotherapy at the Children’s before undergoing a bone marrow transplant from his sister Gerlinda in 1997. This year marks Justin’s 20th anniversary since he was first diagnosed and 15 years since his bone marrow transplant. In 2010 Justin also underwent surgery (vermilionectomy) to remove his bottom lip due to skin cancer (squamous cell carcinoma). I met Justin in 2007 and we started dating in 2009. On our second anniversary Justin proposed and we were married 6 months later (April) a dream wedding - perfect in every way. Justin still receives your magazine, which we like to read through. Justin appreciated the support from Challenge and Ronald McDonald House and speaks highly of the staff at the hospital from his illness. Justin still regularly visits Melbourne for check-ups and we have been actively involved in raising money for cancer. Justin is who he is today because of the challenges he has overcome and we hope to have a family of our own one day. Reading stories from people who have been in Justin’s situation and have since had children brings us hope. The story featured on Jarrod Lyle in the last edition truly touched our hearts, as Justin was a joint winner of the Young Person’s Endeavour Award through Ronald McDonald House in 2000 with Jarrod. Justin is now a social worker, assisting those who are in need. He has walked Kokoda, built huts in Cambodia, travelled around Australia by himself and coaches a local football team. He is an amazing man. We just wanted to share with you the happiest day of our lives with you.



One of the amazing things about coming from a small rural town is the community support that you receive. It would come in the form of casseroles left on the kitchen bench, petrol accounts set up to help with the cost of travelling down for treatment, and close family friends even organised a tennis tournament to help raise money to support us. We had so many people from our community come together to help, and their constant prayers and well wishes gave me the strength to overcome my battle with cancer. Again, this is something I will never forget.

A p r il 2 0 12 y a d g in Our wedd


Staying up Late at the Slumber Party By Briony O’Riley

When we went to the Challenge Slumber Party and stayed at the Hilton Hotel for the night, we walked in to see a huge Games Room, a Movie Room and a Sleeping Room. In the Games Room there was a Photobooth where we could jump in with our friends and it would spit out some photos of us making silly faces, racing machines, a dance machine, air hockey tables, pool tables, pinball machines, a jumping castle and video games like Guitar Hero on Nintendo Wii – awesome!

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Sl e epy ? Not me! !

In the Movie Room they would be playing movies all night that we could go and watch if we wanted. I watched ‘Puss in Boots’, ‘The Muppets’, ‘Journey to the Mysterious Island’ and ‘Tin Tin’.

Hi guys,

From, Kim

We had heaps of food when we first arrived and we could choose from things like chips, wedges, hot dogs, spring rolls and bread and there was even cake for dessert. After dinner, out in the foyer we could get our faces painted or get a henna tattoo.

Everyone started getting really excited at one point in the night, both boys and girls. Then I realised why – Collingwood Coach Nathan Buckley and Dannii Minogue from Australia’s Got Talent had arrived! We all got to have photos taken if we wanted and some people asked them to sign their shirts or drink bottles. They were both really nice. There were two big rooms where we slept and the under 10’s went to bed at about midnight. Any kids who were over 10 (and a few under-10’s who escaped being noticed!) didn’t have to go to bed and I stayed up ALL NIGHT, having fun until the morning when it was time to get picked up. I went home and had a big sleep!! Thanks Challenge.


Thank you so much for taking such good care of Jade and giving her a wonderful time at the Slumber Party last night/ this morning. She had an awesome time.

There were also board games and card games, and a magician called Crazy Pete was wandering around doing some cool tricks.


A Time to Be Brave! Sometimes it takes a lot of energy, will and determination to be brave. Not this time though, as our friends at Greater Union Cinemas in Russell Street hosted another Challenge Movie Day, screening Pixar’s latest amazing movie, “Brave”. More than two hundred Challenge members left their warm and cosy beds on a chilly Sunday morning and headed into the city to watch the movie with their families, enjoying popcorn and a drink along the way. No one was disappointed with what they saw. Despite a few scary moments with a very large and angry bear, Princess Merida and her three troublesome little

brothers saved the day and made sure everyone left with smiles on their faces - even if they didn’t understand a word those Scottish characters said! A big thank you to Christina and her staff at Greater Union for allowing Challenge to hold another wonderful day for our families, in their very own exclusive, “safe” cinema. What a way to finish off the school holidays!

Dear Challenge, Thank you so much for a great day out with my little Allegra. It was her first cinema experience and we both had a fabulous time. Love, Jacqui

Hey guys, I just want to thank you for a great day out on Sunday. It was awesome to take Thomas out to his first cinema experience! The kids loved it and it was nice seeing so many familiar faces there. From, Liz

Hi there, Thank you soooo much Challenge for another awesome family day out. We all had a ball catching up with friends and seeing a fantastic movie. What a great end to the school holidays! Kim

19 Inside Challenge

Wonderful Williamstown Boat Day By Karen Hart

On a lovely Saturday morning, we headed off to Williamstown for the Williamstown Boat Day with Challenge. My son Ryan is four and has A.L.L, while his younger sister Eloise is two. They were both looking forward to having a fun day out with the pirates. The weather was just perfect for a sail out on the bay. We found the kids, and not long after, the pirates arrived, so we had a front row seat to the ensuing water bomb fight. Unfortunately, the kids decided to turn their efforts to bombing our boat as well, so we had to duck back inside to avoid getting wet! The pirates finally gave in and the “treasure” was handed over, much to the delight of all the children.

Once again, Challenge put on a fabulous day with the help of some wonderful volunteers. The kids loved being able to chase the pirates and steal their treasure, while for us parents, it was lovely to be able to have a day out and chat to others in the same situation. Thanks again Challenge, we’ll definitely be keen to go again next year. Challenge would like to thank Mick Trezise and his crew at Williamstown Charters, for organising yet another incredible day out for our families. To everyone involved in putting the day together, we can’t thank you enough.


When we arrived, we were greeted by the Challenge team and then the kids headed off with their dad Chris to board the boat that was full of kids on a mission to find pirates. I left in style a little while later with some other parents on a very luxurious boat to watch what the kids were up to from afar.

When we got back to the yacht club, there was a wonderful BBQ lunch awaiting us. All the volunteers did a fabulous job and the band played some great music to listen to while we were eating. The kids loved having the jumping castle there to run off a bit more steam and as always,

the face painters did a terrific job, turning Ryan into a lion, and Eloise into a tiger.



Having a Blast at Hamilton Camp Hi my name is Jordan and I attended Hamilton Camp 2012. This was my first camp EVER and I was really scared about being away from my family. Once I got on the bus though, I was fine. We had a really long bus trip but nothing that lots of stops and yummy snacks couldn’t fix! When we arrived at Hamilton College we met Gavan, who had planned the whole camp, and we got to choose our rooms. I shared with three other boys and made friends easier than I thought. We all made up nicknames for each other - I got Jordy!

The next day, we hopped in our mini buses and ate a huge breakfast back at the Hamilton Lions Club before heading out to a little town called Macarthur. In Macarthur we got to ride in Cobb and Co horse and cart rides (which I got to drive!), pat cute little puppies, play heaps of different ball games and see some really cool caves at Mt Eccles, where the guide played a trick on us and pretended there was a ghost living in the cave. But we weren’t fooled! After Macarthur, we went to the Hamilton Aerodrome for joy flights! Some leaders looked a bit green after they had a go but I was fine. After whizzing around the skies of Hamilton, we headed to the Hamilton Bowls Club where we were taught how to bowl and also played lots of games like pool and table tennis. We then sat down to a huuuuuge homemade dinner that was delicious! That night the leaders had to tell us to ‘zip it’ quite a few times because there were new

friends to talk to and the day to go over before we could close our eyes, but we finally did and everyone slept really well in our dorms. On Saturday we divided into two groups, with the bigger kids going off for Go Kart rides and us younger ones getting to drive speed boats and ride in really cool Hot Rods. I think I’ll get one when I grow up… Once we met back up with the oldies, we all drove a while out to a place called Cavendish to find Ron and Jean Lewis’ farm. There was a great spread of delicious morning tea waiting for

21 Inside Challenge

Thank you so very much to Challenge and everyone involved with making Hamilton Camp happen. Jordan had an amazing time and enjoyed meeting other great kids. You guys are amazing! From, Sarah

us, which we quickly devoured, before watching a sheep being sheared and checking out the farm dogs rounding up the sheep. We even had a ride on the top of a sheep truck, which was really run! The funniest bit was when one of the leaders Luke, tried to ride an old bike to catch us and take photos. I think he only got one shot before we left him for dust! After a great lunch at the playground in the town of Cavendish, we went to the Hamilton Aquatic Centre, where everyone mucked around for hours in the pool and I got some great photos of shoulder-ride wrestling. I think the leaders got pretty waterlogged with that game… After drying off, we headed back to the airport for dinner (another big yummy meal) and then some boot scooting. One of the leaders Cathie, showed off her dancing skills from the top of a table, and she looked hilarious.

We also had a girl play us some music on her guitar. She had a really nice voice and everyone liked the fact that she played songs we knew. Then it was home for DVD’s which didn’t work (nice one Klara!) and then eventually bed. We were pretty tired tonight; it had been a big day! Sunday, our last day, and it was up early to pack up and get out to Dunkeld where a BBQ breakfast was waiting for us and there were bikies everywhere! I picked a bike that I thought looked the fastest and we had an excellent ride through the Grampians to Halls Gap, where my bikie bought me an ice cream which was really nice. I decided to go back on a different bike because some of the bikies didn’t have kids on the way up, so it seemed fairer. He gave me an awesome bandanna that had been his and I looked even cooler than I already do! The ride ended in a park where we ate lots of meat and ice cream then said our goodbyes to the Hamilton community, before hitting the road one last time.

I was tired but still had plenty of talking to do in the front seat of Klara’s van, where I got to ride with another kid. We had fun playing DJ’s and picking on Klara. Before we knew it, we were home and meeting back up with our mums and dads. I had the best time of my life. It was so nice to meet other kids who had either been through what I have or who were brothers or sisters of a patient. It was nice to talk and hear what others had to say. Thank you to everyone who helped with this trip, especially Gavan O’Donnell and the Hamilton community. Thank you also to Klara and all the volunteers. Thanks Challenge.




Tale of Two Junior Camps

My First Camp It was my first camp and we were all dropped off at Challenge by our families on the Saturday morning. My volunteer was named Jesse (Jesus) and he was very nice. After a stop at an indoor play centre, we had a long bus ride to get to Mount Eliza for Junior Camp to really start.

By Jacob Holmes

At camp, we all made our own sandwiches for lunch and then we unpacked our luggage in our cabins. We went for a walk around the camp and played tennis. Then we did lots of other fun activities. We got to see the farm animals and I cuddled a rabbit and a guinea pig. I also fed a baby goat. We all got to make colourful sand pictures. Mine was a dinosaur. I loved cooking. First I made chocolate balls and next I decorated cupcakes with icing and lollies.

Dear Challenge Taylor and Georgia had a blast at Junior Camp and are still talking about the weekend and about their mermaid costumes!! Thanks challenge! Karen

During our circus skills session, we played pyramids and practised being acrobats. I also went on the flying fox and we all loved jumping on the jumping castle. We had nuggets for dinner and yummy ice-cream for dessert. Then Fairy Twinkletoes came and did a show with her dog Rufus. We all slept very well that night in our cabins! The next morning after breakfast, we played more tennis and jumped on

Hey guys,

Hi Challenge,

Thanks again for taking Holly to Junior Camp; she had a fantastic time.

Thank you so much for such a great camp. Both my girls had a ball.



We had a BBQ lunch and some of the parents came to have lunch and pick up their kids. Then we packed our bags, cleaned our cabins and were ready for the bus trip home.

Hello Team Challenge Our girls, Emily & Monique are converted camp goers. They had an absolutely wonderful time in Mt Eliza and both started to fall asleep within the car on the drive home. Please pass our thanks to Marni for looking after our girls. Her natural ability of getting on with our girls showed when only minutes into the trip home (actually before we left the car park) there were tears and cried of “we miss our friend Marni”. I think that says it all. A big thank you also to Sonia and Micka for their continued support, and to the rest of the volunteers for creating such a fun, safe and loving environment for our girls. You all do a wonderful job, and we thank you very much for that support. Kind regards, Nick and Dee

We all had a great time and camp was so much fun!! I really hope to go again next year!



the jumping castle again. Then everyone went into the hall where we did some games in a big group, and then Klara gave us all costumes!!! Mine is a Jack Sparrow costume and it is so cool!! We all dressed up in our new costumes and headed down to get our faces painted. We spent a couple of hours driving around in the police and fire trucks with the sirens on – it was heaps of fun!

Inside Challenge



My First Volunteer Experience By Jesus Ibarra

Since completing my training as a volunteer for Challenge, I’ve been eagerly waiting for the first opportunity to participate in one of their events. I’ve always known Junior Camp would be the right event for me as I wanted to work with kids and help to keep them entertained with all the exciting activities planned for this event. On the day of the camp I was excited, anxious, and nervous. I didn’t know what to expect and felt responsible for making the experience as amazing, fun and entertaining as I possibly could. When I met Jacob, my concerns dissipated; he was open to talk, friendly and enthusiastic. We connected easily and soon we were chatting and planning our activities for the weekend ahead. In that moment I was transported to a different time and place - I felt I was a kid again, and as a kid, I was experiencing the same enthusiasm and excitement about sharing this time with my new friend. On our arrival a whole heap of activities were awaiting us; a jumping castle, magic shows, cooking classes, flying fox - everything was perfectly set up to have a lot of fun and all in just one place. We had a go at every activity and in no time I was immersed in a magical atmosphere full of happy

25 Inside Challenge

Tale of Two Junior Camps Our names are Edie and Scarlett and we went on Junior Camp with Challenge. We think that Challenge camps are cool because some kids have been really sick and get the chance to get away from the hospital and have fun.

We got to meet lots of new people; our carers were Irene and Lacey. They helped us get to know lots of the other kids as well.

Our favourite things we did at camp were riding the flying fox and going in the front of the police cars and fire trucks and turning on the irens and even the water hoses!

We always like going on camp because it is so exciting and we get to do lots of cool stuff we hardly ever get to do like cooking lessons, the flying fox, learning circus tricks, watching the

children running around, playing games and enjoying every moment with the other kids and the volunteers. This was the best feeling and is when I realised how lucky I was to be part of this. I had the opportunity to share little moments with other kids and see more of their personalities; listen to their stories and feel closer to them. Sometimes I felt I was talking to an adult, and it was me who learned

clowns make funny balloons and HEAPS of other cool stuff too. Thanks for taking us on camp, Challenge and we really hope we get to go on more and more! Edie and Scarlett Gales-Smith

many lessons just by listening and watching them interact. Junior Camp has been an extraordinary experience and surpassed every expectation I had. I enjoyed the games, activities and the contact with everyone around. The assistance and support of the leaders was exceptional, and contributed to make this experience a pleasant and enjoyable ride.




like - I Tickle me all yothue plank! will NOT walk

Ready to roar throug the Grampians h

All revved up at Hamilton Camp

Now where are those helpful seven dwarfs?

Pyjama party at the Hilton

Were we supposed to be cooking or eating?!

The Bomber Brigade


bot I’m a superhero - don’tch! lun for me calling


Who has the biggest smile?

Ripp ing it up on Lake Ham ilton ci ti ng th an No th in g’s m or e stexad iu m w it h yo ur ed en te ri ng a pa ckdi ng ne xt to yo u an st he ro

Bucks had as much fu Slumber Party as then at the kids! Jemma paints another masterpiece at Playgroup

Even hospital seems magical when Fairy Twinkletoes drops in

st ar Vi rg in a Ga y Win ne rs an d Lo set rs t wi th th e gi rl s en jo ys a ni gh ouon nn er at th e Di am ds Di


Re ad y for bed at the Slu mb er Pa rty - NOT!

The jew el in the cro wn

av e? Who sa id I wa s Br

Flyi ng high at Ham ilton

Let me at those pesky pirates!

Wh en I gro w up I wan t to be jus t like you

I drive myself to Playgroup


We love William stown Boat Day!

Wh en Bom ber s dro p in…

t scared…

You really can’t beat a bacon and egg breakky at camp

I’m not scared, I’m no

Have a yabba-da bba-do time…

Eve n pri nce sse s can ha ve fun on cam p!

Snookered at the Slumber Party

Can I have one of thos e?


Diamonds and Pearls… The 12th annual Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend Gala Dinner was held on a wintry Thursday in June at Crown Palladium, tickets having sold out in a record 15 minutes! Our guests oozed sophistication in gorgeous frocks with a touch of Diamonds and Pearls, in line with our theme for the evening. A major highlight was the breathtaking performance by Mahalia Barnes who rocked the crowd with River Deep, Mountain High (as seen on the Grand Final of The Voice!) and I am Woman. Glamour gal Tottie Goldsmith was our MC for the evening and did a wonderful job steering guests through our jam packed agenda! Several Melbourne-based personalities joined us for the evening, including Melanie Vallejo and Virginia Gay (Winners & Losers); Channel Nine’s Jo Hall; Dani and Sophie (The Block) and Sonia Marinelli (Nine News). Out in the foyer, the pampering was in full swing, with the ladies well looked after with make-up, hair and nails

31 Inside Challenge

touched up by the wonderful ladies from Napoleon, Masci Hair and Spa and Martinis, Manicures and Makeovers. Between touch-ups, guests flocked to the Tyrrell’s Champagne Bar to buy their glass of bubbly, secure their gorgeous “diamond” ring and go into the draw to win the real thing – an exquisite Diamond and Pearl ring and pendant set valued at over $9,000. With glass in hand, the ladies perused the fantastic array of silent auction items on offer, making bids on whatever items caught their fancy along the way! Social event business, iBare Giftware held its own stand ‘Forest of Bling Bags’ selling funky cosmetic bags containing a pair of Freshwater Pearl Earrings with one lucky guest winning over $500 worth of Crystal and Pearl jewellery.

Back in the Palladium, the dance floor (as usual!) was the hottest spot to be, as our great friends “Velvet Corporation” brought out the best dance moves in everyone…we have never seen a group of women perform the Bus Stop with such precision! Halfway through the evening, the main auction offered the chance for guests to bid on some highly valuable items and money-can’t-buy experiences. This year’s main auction featured an amazing selection, including a Vintage Party Tram, including unlimited rides, party food and more; four tickets for a VIP Concert & Dining Experience at Rochford Wines; a chance to enjoy the most luxurious Gold Class cinema experience with 17 friends, plus the opportunity to watch the Executive Chef at Crown and his stellar team of chefs prepare a sublime meal for you and a group of friends, with each course matched with premium Tyrrell’s wines. Of course, there’s a first time for everything and Challenge would like to acknowledge Ross Johnston, our first ever male auctioneer at Diamonds!

The night would not have been the success it was without a huge amount of support from so many. Challenge would like to thank our key sponsors Bed Bath N’ Table, Crown, Staging

To Anna Higgins and the Women for Challenge Committee, we couldn’t run this event without your help. Thanks also to our absolutely sensational volunteers who worked so tirelessly during the day and on the night, many of whom come back year after year to help us. We can’t tell you how much we appreciate your enthusiasm and attention to detail in ensuring everything goes smoothly. Each and every one of you is valued by Challenge. To our Challenge mums Lyn Curtis, Kirsty Ellis and Bee Hansen for being a part of our video presentation and for allowing us to share your personal stories - thank you. And finally to all our guests! Thank you for supporting Challenge by buying a ticket and taking part in our fundraising activities on the night. A sell-out event such as this goes a long way to helping Challenge deliver its programs and services and do what we’re here to do – help families living with cancer to see the light at the end of the tunnel as they battle their journeys head on.



By the time Jacinta Halsall from Melbourne Diamond Importers took to the stage to draw the Tyrell’s Champagne Bar raffle, all 1,500 guests could barely breathe in anticipation of hearing their name called out. Congratulations to Val Neumann who won the 22ct gold ring and pendant set. We bet she’s had a wonderful time showing it off to her friends and family!

Connections, Melbourne Diamond Importers, Tyrrell’s Wines, Trading Faces, Napoleon, Masci Hair and Spa and iBare. Thanks also to all the organisations and individuals who donated a silent or main auction item for the night. The funds raised from these donations are a huge factor in the success of the event, and bring smiles to the faces of those who purchase them!


Erin’s Special Day in May The last Saturday in May was a special day for five-year-old Erin Toomey, marking a huge milestone in her young life: the end of her two-and-a-half year cancer treatment, having been diagnosed with NonHodgkin’s Lymphoma at the age of three. Erin, her sister Chloe and parents Kathy and Guy decided there was no better way to commemorate such a spectacular event than to hold ‘A Day in May’ at Erin’s school on the following Monday, in order to raise money for Challenge. A Day in May is a fundraising campaign run by Challenge where schools nominate a convenient, and in this case, celebratory, day in May where students wear yellow and make a gold coin donation to the Musical Moments Trust. This Trust was established by Challenge to give young people living with cancer a chance to escape the

rigours of treatment but immersing themselves in the moment of music. And so it was that on this particular Monday in May, Holy Trinity Primary School was a sea of yellow, as 400 students and their teachers dressed up and took part in a range of fun activities, including a live performance by the Victoria Police Band!

An outstanding amount of money was raised for the Musical Moments Trust, to help fund opportunities for our members such as; the provision of a Music Therapist to visit a child’s home, a child to attend a group music program close to home, writing and recording a song with a music teacher and group music sessions with a Music Therapist at the Challenge Family Centre. Challenge would like to thank Holy Trinity Primary School for their overwhelming support of our Day in May campaign, along with all the kindergartens and schools across Victoria that took part. Special thanks also to the Toomey Family for sharing their amazing story with the whole of Australian through media such as “The Project”.

33 Inside Challenge

Time of Your Life Ball 2012 By Jade Barr

Team W, faced with the challenge of presenting our fourth biennial ‘Time of Your Life Ball’, was thrilled to secure the Fitzroy Town Hall as the venue for this event. The grandeur of the room created an amazing atmosphere that kicked off a phenomenal evening. The culmination of months of hard work and collective excitement, the sell-out event was enjoyed by all who attended. A special mention must go to the phenomenal talent and quick wit of ‘Johnny Wonderpants’ who not only performed on the evening, ensuring that the dance floor was a constant site of joy, but whose drummer, Nick Farnell, agreed to dutifully perform the Master of Ceremonies role and did so with ease. The entertainment was complimented by the culinary masterpieces presented by Andrew Martin and the team at Margate Catering. Thank you to both of these groups for their support, time and

skills, without which we would not have experienced such success. Likewise, it would be remiss not to mention the corporate support we received from Coca Cola and Lamana in providing refreshments and fruit and vegetables. Without such sponsorship we would have been able to raise the $23,500 we did. Thank you. Team W cannot believe that 10 years have passed since our original affiliation with Challenge began. We are grateful

for the support Challenge has provided us in our months, days and hours of need and are extraordinarily proud that we have been able to contribute over $75,000 to such a great cause that offers so much to those in dire need. We hope that Challenge continues to be able to give in whatever way it can, however significant, to those who need such great care during such difficult times and who ask for so little. We are proud of our association and wish Challenge every success for its future.




Victorian Tank Services Golf Day With champion golfer Robert Allenby as our International Patron and Jarrod Lyle one of our Ambassadors, Challenge really does have golf in its blood! So it’s no surprise that many of the fundraising events planned and held to raise money for our organisation revolve around this fantastic sport – so many people love it! We are always extremely grateful to those willing to make such an effort to help support Challenge and so we were very excited when Victorian Tank Services approached us about becoming the major sponsor of our second charity golf day at Kooringal Golf Club. Victorian Tank Services is an organisation that services the ISO Tank Container industry, issuing cleanliness certificates, witnessing statutory testing of ISO tank containers and auditing the loading of full containers. From humble beginnings five years ago, they have grown to now service 40 clients from all over Australia and around the world and have plans to

expand interstate to satisfy increased demands of the industry. One of the things about charity golf days is that the inaugural event is usually the easiest, with lots of people keen to get on board and support the day, but it can become a little more difficult to get the same level of assistance and enthusiasm the second and third time around! However, with the support of Tony and Helen Barr and the PGA Trainees, the second golf day at Kooringal this year was another outstanding success. Everyone involved had a wonderful day, the weather was perfect and the celebrities who attended gave the paying guests an interesting opportunity to meet them.

Most of you will have seen “Jason” from the RACV doing some wacky things on his TV commercials and he certainly brought the “wacky” to Kooringal Golf Club, as his golfing prowess was extremely limited! Good one Jason!! The event was a huge success for Challenge, raising in excess of $14,000 to further the programs and services that we offer children and families. To all the sponsors and supporters who attended the day, our sincere thanks and congratulations to the winners. We look forward to hosting the 3rd Annual Kooringal Golf Day in March 2013.

35 Inside Challenge

Michaela’s 15 Minutes of Fame… Michaela Gunn. Her name says it all. Being an extremist at heart and a lover of all things unique and bizarre, owning seven green tree frogs, four goldfish and an eastern bearded dragon lizard, it was only natural for Michaela to shave her head at the daredevil stunt show ‘Nitro Circus’! Michaela was diagnosed with stomach cancer in 2010 and despite her difficult journey, her colourful and confident nature has continued to flourish. Her self prescribed mentality is as simple as ‘you can either be down and depressed and do nothing, or get on the roller coaster of life and go along for the ride. I’m not going to pity myself’. Sadly, Michaela has lost many friends to cancer throughout her treatment and to honour these beautiful souls, she decided to shave her head and raise money for Challenge. Michaela however, being anything but boring, didn’t want to shave her head

Team Callum This year we decided to fundraise for Challenge by participating in the Run Melbourne fun run on 17th July. Our 6 year old Bailey was keen to participate as well. He asked his school mates, family and friends to sponsor him so he could raise the highest amount. Before long we had over 30 family and friends sign up with us in the 10km or 5km run. With the increase in numbers to our team came an increase in funds raised. Bailey achieved his goal, raising

Not only did Michaela get her 15 minutes of fame when the show came to Melbourne, having her long firey-red pigtails snipped off and the footage posted on YouTube, but she also got to hang out with the crew and have dinner! Well done, Michaela, and thank you so much for supporting Challenge in this fantastic way.

By the Fox Family

$1,900 personally and was often heard telling someone that he was raising money for ‘our Challenge families’. We were thrilled with Team Callum’s final fundraising result of over $7,000. Our family and friends have again shown us amazing support in helping us to give back to Challenge. We believe Challenge is invaluable to the general wellbeing of a family unit during the terrifying and tumultuous time that we all deal with. The spirit of the day proved just right for us to remember our precious Callum and his fight, as well as all the other beautiful children, whether fighting, resting or smiling and loving life.


Challenge has supported our family in so many different ways since 2010 when our youngest son Callum was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumour.

in an ordinary manner. Naturally, she organised for it to be done during a live practice session for the ‘Nitro Circus’ show, by leading stunt woman Lyn-Z Adams Hawkins Pastrana, among the flying bikes and skateboards!

Thanks Challenge – you guys are awesome!



Mellow Times at Melon’s Cottage

By the Deeble Family

Melon’s Cottage at Lakes Entrance provided a wonderful, relaxing and refreshing getaway for our family. In late July we journeyed to the small coastal town in East Gippsland and spent five nights at the cottage. After the 500km trip from Ballarat, we were warmly welcomed by Jodie, who together with her husband Pete, son Archie and the Lakes Entrance community, has created a home away from home, complete with everything you could possibly need for your stay. From the cottage it is only a short walk to a great playground for the kids and a short drive to the centre of town. We were lucky to enjoy some beautiful winter days. A highlight of our trip was a cruise on the Gippsland Lakes. Georgia, five and Charlie, three loved seeing the pelicans on the water, and we were all thrilled to see seals sunning themselves on the rocks and dolphins jumping the waves. It was so nice just to sit back and enjoy the warm sun and picturesque views, and the kids loved buying a drink and a killer python from the shop on the boat! There’s plenty to keep the family occupied around Lakes Entrance. We all had lots of fun with a game of mini golf on the

esplanade, and enjoyed the luxury of hot chocolates on board a floating restaurant. 90 Mile Beach is beautiful. We enjoyed walks on the beach and along the boardwalk, and look forward to going back in summer to spend lots of time in the water and building sandcastles. One day we drove just an hour from Lakes Entrance to explore the Buchan Caves. With a small group, a tour guide took us into the Fairy Cave, 65 metres underground. The age-old stalactites and stalagmites were amazing. After the tour we spent some time amongst the beautiful grounds of the Buchan Caves Reserve. The kids played on the playground and we visited the souvenir shop, where fairy dust in their

favourite colours and an icecream were the order of the day. We then decided to travel a bit further north to the Little River Falls at the Snowy River National Park, which is well worth the drive. The waterfall is spectacular (but bring coats if you go in winter – it was pretty chilly!) We had some delicious meals while we were away including local seafood that we cooked at the cottage. The Lakes Entrance bugs, flake and whiting tails were very yummy! We also really enjoyed our meals at the Central Hotel (and they cater very well for a gluten-free diet). Melon’s Cottage was a really homely place to stay with lots of games, toys and books to entertain the kids. We had a fantastic time away and would like to give thanks to Challenge and of course to Jodie, Pete and Archie, and to everyone that has so generously contributed to Melon’s Cottage.

37 Inside Challenge

Taking Time Out at Trevor Barker House

By the Meers Family

Last year our precious Grace was in the midst of the intensive phase of chemo treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. With any cancer treatment there are many ups and downs and like those before us we’ve rolled with the punches. By the time we passed the half way mark we were starting to run out of emotional fuel to keep us focused on the next six months ahead. It was at this time that we decided to book the Trevor Barker House six months in advance. Not just to mark the end of the intensive phase of treatment but most importantly to give us something to look forward to. When the chips were down we would think of our holiday and it raised our spirits. When we were finally at the house we were able to wander

over the road and go for walks along the beach, breathe the fresh air and feel the sun’s rays. Pure joy… The kids were thrilled with an impressive state of the art playground directly opposite the Trevor Barker House. Our kids made good use of the boogie boards and there were squeals of delight when they caught an awesome wave.

We are so grateful to Challenge for giving us the opportunity to stay there. I highly recommend it for some wonderful rest and relaxation.



Personally I enjoyed the selection of current mags to lose myself in. Trips to the ice cream shop and a day trip to Queenscliff to swim with the dolphins were simply amazing. The fridge and pantry were even stocked with essentials, which seriously gave me the warm and fuzzies!


Dreaming of Diamond Beach…

By Sherryn Aggelis

Our family has been a member of Challenge for over four years, since our daughter Jasmine was diagnosed with leukaemia in December 2007. Throughout the time Jasmine was undergoing treatment there was never really a good chance to get away and enjoy a holiday together as a family. Unfortunately Jasmine passed away in May 2011 without us ever having taken that family holiday. It had been almost a year since she passed when I received a phone call from Micka to see how we were all travelling. He mentioned that Challenge has an apartment for families to use at the Diamond Beach Resort on the Gold Coast, and that it might be nice for us to get away from it all and spend some quality time together.

Hesitant at first, I took some time to think about it as we were not sure if it would feel “right” going on a holiday when Jasmine was not with us anymore to enjoy it. In the end we took up the opportunity to have some time out and get away, and made the decision that we were going to enjoy ourselves in honour of our beautiful Jasmine, as most of her life was spent in and out of hospital. We had the best time at the resort, and the facilities were fantastic. The pool was great as it was heated, so even if the weather wasn’t really

hot the kids could still swim. The use of the Challenge car during our time up there was also a huge help. It was such a bonus having our own transport to get to all the theme parks and back without using buses or taxis. The best thing was that the beach was literally across the road, so every morning we would go there for a little swim or even a walk and a little paddle. I would like to thank Challenge so much for allowing us to use the apartment. Even though Jasmine was not with us, it was definitely a much needed break for all of us, giving us time to reflect on how much we miss our Jasmine, but also to remember to live life for her.

39 Inside Challenge

Magical Music Therapy

The Challenge Music Therapy Program is now well established. Each week, Bec holds sessions at Challenge House, as well as visiting families at home, and at the Ronald McDonald and BMDI houses. Kids have been singing, rapping, writing songs, making video clips and developing their skills on various instruments, all of which are enjoyed immensely. Planning is underway for a six-week songwriting group to begin in October,

We have had Rebecca the music therapist visit us a couple of times. She has provided a real boost to Elizabeth’s spirits - Elizabeth says Rebecca is awesome - and Elizabeth just loves music. When Rebecca visits, Elizabeth is extra happy all day long - she gets such a lift.

Rebecca is just lovely and very obliging with the hand gel and mask requirements and the consideration to not visit if Elizabeth is unwell. I try not to be in Elizabeth’s space when she has a visitor (so she can have all the attention that she deserves after being in isolation since November) and so for me, it means I do some

creative self-expression, while developing musical skills. If you are interested in finding out more information about the Challenge Music Therapy Program or the pilot 6-week songwriting group, please give us a call at the office on 9329 8474.

housework that has been neglected for months. It is amazing what an hour hard at it can do! So I win too. I am extremely grateful to those who have provided the funding for this service. Kind regards, Caroline


Dear Challenge,

offering young people between 12 and 18 years of age the opportunity to write a song together and record it at a professional recording studio. Local musicians will be involved, providing mentoring and inspiration. The group aims to bring together young people with similar interests and encourage


Let’s Walk and Talk The recent Walk and Talk had our highest attendance to date and an enthusiastic group were ready and raring to tackle the elements. We had a range of families from first time walkers, repeat offenders, recently bereaved and some who lost their child a number of years ago. For the first time we offered our families a chance to take on the rigorous exercise the ‘Tan’ can offer (keep up with Micka), or the newly introduced short walk which comprises of a leisurely stroll through the gardens (Margaret being of an age now where the shorter walk is more enjoyable). Whatever walk was chosen, it all concluded with a drink and snack at the Observatory Café. The Walk and Talk afternoons are an opportunity for families who have lost a child to cancer to come together with others who understand what they are

going through. They can share feelings, coping strategies, talk about their children or the often difficult times they experience in their lives, whilst walking with others who share similar circumstances. Or if a family prefers, they talk about the footy, what they are doing next weekend or things their other children are doing. The walk is very informal; you do it at your own pace and discuss what you want and how you want! We encourage any families who have lost a child to consider coming to our next Walk and Talk on November 25th, and join us for some fun, exercise and refreshments before the Christmas season is upon us. If you would like more information about the Walk and Talk and other bereaved services we can offer your family, please contact the office any time. It is never easy to take that first step, but before you know it, you will be walking.

Hi guys, Thanks for a very pleasant afternoon. We enjoyed the “walk” and the “talk”. Please also pass on our thanks to Micka, Sonia and Margaret. Until next time… Regards, Lyn and Steve

Morning Team, We just wanted to pass on a quick thanks to Micka, Sonia and Margaret for facilitating a wonderful Walk & Talk yesterday afternoon. We were at first a little reluctant to confront such raw emotions head on with a group, but soon realised the value of the afternoon. Very well done and another great effort for the team at Challenge. Thanks again. With Regards, Matthew and Tracey

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41 Inside Challenge

DUC Club Poker Night By Kevin Elliott

Bru no thou ght you had to have your eyes clos ed to play a “blin d”!

Each year, Challenge holds a variety of activities just for the fathers in the program, through the DUC (Dad’s Ultimate Challenge) Club. These activities are aimed at helping dads to meet other dads who have a child with cancer, but really they just bring groups of guys together at events they enjoy, like football and rugby matches, golfing weekends, bowling days and even the Grand Prix. I have enjoyed all the DUC activities I’ve been able to attend, but one of my favourites is the annual DUC Club Poker Night. This year’s Poker Night was the third I have attended and I always look forward

to the night, not because I am an expert at poker - far from it - but because it’s a great night to get together with a good bunch of blokes. I brought a mate along this year and he had a fantastic night, finishing second. There was plenty to eat and drink and we watched Geelong and Carlton on the big screen. The first half of the night starts off with everyone playing and you are able to buy more gambling chips up until intermission. After the break, things really

start to gather momentum, with people starting to drop out of the game as the bids start to increase. The final eight end up on a table together to see who will become the champion of the night, while the last three players walk away with prize money. This year everyone walked away a winner thanks to the supply of jocks and socks donated by the Shane Warne Foundation. To sum it all up another great night organised by Challenge.




Hi there, Thank you for the great retreat for the Challenge mums! I’ve met some beautiful women, and relaxed for the first time in a looong time with people who just “get it”. It was exactly what I needed. What an amazing gift you give us families, in so many ways! Love, Liz

Just for Mums… Here at Challenge we strive to make the journey through cancer somewhat less of a struggle for our children and families. As such, along with our extensive array of programs and activities for the kids, we also offer services and weekend events to help ease the stress for mums, through our Women for Challenge program. While children receive much of their treatment at city hospitals, it is important for mums and dads to have a support network they can turn to when they are at home, particularly in country areas. Nobody understands quite what a parent is going through better than another parent and so Challenge organises brunches for mums throughout the year in regional areas such as Wangaratta, Bendigo and Ballarat. Along with our annual Mother’s Day and Christmas lunches, these catch-ups give mums a rare chance to meet with other mums from their area and spend a few hours relaxing and chatting in a casual and non-threatening environment. Relaxation Retreats are held each month and allow mums to go on a kind of “mum’s camp”, to relax and recharge their batteries. Challenge drives small groups of mums down to the Trevor Barker House in Torquay to spend a weekend surrounded by wonderful women, great food, pampering sessions, walks on the beach and yes, more great food!

We work with home service companies, Mecwa Redicare and Peninsula HouseKeeping to offer assistance to families in getting some of their housework completed when they have endured long or multiple stays in hospital. Having bathrooms cleaned and floors mopped allows parents to enjoy time spent as a family and alleviates the need to worry about less important tasks like washing the dishes. If you would like further information regarding any of these services please call the Challenge office on 9329 8474.

Hi guys, Thank you so much for the lovely weekend away in Torquay. It was so nice to talk to people who understand. From, Angela

Dear Challenge, I had such a great weekend away at the Mums Retreat. Thank you again to Margaret for her efforts and to all the lovely mums who I shared it with. For those who haven’t been, the weekends are well worth it. From, Holly

43 Inside Challenge

A Mum’s Retreat…

By Liz Tsiakmakis

When I first received the invitation from Challenge for the mums’ weekend away at the Trevor Barker House, I was really unsure about going. There was a part of me that was really excited about the opportunity, but there was also a part of me that hesitated. There were definite moments where we all talked about our experiences but only because we wanted to and it felt natural to do it, and of course there were moments where we got emotional but you were in such a supportive and understanding environment that it was not overwhelming at all. But what I took away more than anything was such an amazing feeling of inspiration! Being surrounded by these beautiful, strong women made me realise how strong I had been as well over the past year, how far I had come and how much more I could do. That feeling is priceless in our situation. Quite a few things were going through my mind; I was naturally worried about leaving Thomas. I hadn’t been away from him since he was diagnosed last year. Thomas had a really intense year of treatment and had only recently gone into maintenance and I have to admit that I felt a little guilty that I wanted to get away. But more than anything, I was worried that going away for a weekend with a group of mums all going through the same thing as I was would open up a massive can of emotional worms!

Another mum Sandra that I had met in the hospital early on in our journey convinced me to try and put my name down for the same weekend that she was going on and I’ll always be thankful to her for doing that. We were driven up by Margaret who works at Challenge and were all taken for

After our pampering session we all went out to lunch. To be honest I was worried it would be uncomfortable being with women I didn’t really know, but it wasn’t at all. It was like being with a group of my girlfriends that I’d known for years…there are just some situations in life that bond you, and this felt like one of them. We headed to the Trevor Barker House, situated right across from the beach what a beautiful place! We spent the rest of the weekend just relaxing, talking, laughing and yes, there were some tears but in a good way. Margaret served us up a beautiful 3 course meal cooked by a chef that night and we talked and talked and laughed and just enjoyed ourselves with a glass of wine and some yummy food!

But I have to say that more than anything I was so inspired by Margaret what an amazing woman! She shared her experiences with us in the most humble of ways and the most POSITIVE! Without even really saying anything she made me realise that no matter what life throws at me, I am strong enough to get through it, strong enough to support my children through whatever it is they may face on this journey and beyond. I’ve learnt a lot in this last year, some good, some not good, and I’ll never be the same after this but I wouldn’t want to be. When Thomas’ journey of treatment is complete then it will be my turn to give back. How could I not? But for now I am so grateful for organisations like Challenge, that make moments of this journey more bearable, that strengthen me as an individual, and give opportunities for us to spend time together as a family without the main focus being cancer! If you haven’t been on a weekend away with Challenge yet and are not too sure if you should, trust me and go for it!! You will not regret it, the laughs, the tears, the blissful relaxation….it’s everything you need and deserve!



Since Thomas had been diagnosed I felt as though I was running on adrenaline, and since he had gone into maintenance and we were spending less time in hospital I was starting to get more emotional about what had happened to my boy, about all we had been dealing with as a family. I was petrified that this weekend would be like going to a group counselling session….How wrong I was!!

a beautiful pampering session at a day spa….what a way to start the weekend!! I could literally feel the tension and worry just leaving me, being surrounded by people who knew what it felt like to be living on edge constantly that another fever may strike and you’ll end up back in hospital, who knew what it was like to always put your family’s needs before your own. I felt like I could actually allow myself to relax around these women…. and I did!


Making Waves in Melton With the weather Gods on our side, on a sunny day in the middle of a cold autumn spell, a handful of families met a bunch of boat owners on the banks of the Melton Reservoir for the 2012 Melton Ski Day. The plan was to ski, knee board, doughnut, and drive fast boats around for a massive day of water-based fun times. The day was an outstanding success with the kids having a ball trying out new skills and pushing themselves beyond what they ever thought they could do. The beaming smiles on faces were enough to show the self satisfaction and thrills that were experienced on the day. The parents had a fantastic time in the fast boats, feeling like a million bucks. The day also proved a great chance to meet some of the other Challenge families living in and around the Melton area. It’s always

good to know there is understanding and support just around the corner if you ever need it! After a busy morning on the water, everyone got together for a well-earned BBQ lunch, complete with oodles of food and chocolate to follow; did someone mention Easter was nigh…? And then it was straight back out on the water for an afternoon of more thrills, but this time, with a newfound confidence, people got a little cheeky - with doughnut wrestling

competitions, over-throwing and splashing of unsuspecting parents. All in all, it was a great first time event and we hope for many, many more! Challenge would like to thank the Melton Runabout & Speedboat Club; the generosity of so many of their members in providing boats and equipment was amazing; Melton Shire Council; Déjà Vu Ski; Chris Dowd Photography and ASAP Recruitment for helping on the day.


Sometimes it’s tough being a teenager. It can be even tougher when you’re undergoing treatment for cancer and have the added stress of maintaining friendships when you’re hardly at school, the lack of a social life and losing your hair, not to mention feeling pretty average much of the time. Often it can help to meet and talk to others around the same age, teenagers dealing with similar issues, but this can be hard when you’re in hospital surrounded by babies and toddlers. So Challenge decided to trial a Teen Night – an activity exclusively for teenage patients and siblings currently going through the program. In late June, Teen Night kicked off with a bang, as 20 teenagers enjoyed a night off from their parents and went nuts at Galactic Circus! For many in the group it was their first Challenge event, while for others it was a great chance to rekindle friendships formed at other activities.

The night started off with our volunteers for the night, staff from Spike Creative, getting to know all the kids and just as importantly, making sure the kids got to know each other so everyone felt like they knew someone! Then it was enough of the chat and straight into action. Everyone tried their hand at a game of bowling with mixed results. The bumpers certainly got a work out and while there were kids yelling out “Strike!” all over the place, the lure of pies, sausage rolls, chips and nuggets was equally as popular. Competition wasn’t a focal point, more the satisfaction of seeing pins fall down at regular intervals for anyone in their group. Two highlights however were the

Let’s Celebrate!

super smooth bowling skills of Khloe, who bowled 4 strikes in as many balls and James, who casually sat back in his wheelchair the whole game and still scored higher than most! After a game of bowling everyone spread themselves throughout Galactic Circus, choosing their favourite games to test their skill or simply to shoot as many victims as they possibly could, all in the name of fun of course. The NBA game proved the most popular with tickets pouring out of the machine at a very rapid rate. Crown’s prize pool plummeted as our talented kids drained their ticket machines! The night proved a great success and at our next Teen Night we’d love to see lots of new faces come along to meet some other kids and of course have a heap of fun!

By Jen Concilia

The children loved every minute of the show and beamed for two hours as they watched Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, the characters from Toy Story and

Josh’s personal favourites – the Disney Villains – in a medley of holidays, celebrations and festivals from around the world. Just seeing them both so happy really was a cause for celebration! It certainly was a magical experience and I am grateful to Challenge for providing us with the tickets and allowing us to experience such a wonderful night’s entertainment. Thank you!



Our son Josh was diagnosed with leukaemia in January this year and to be honest there hasn’t been a lot of jubilation and festivity since then. So it seemed a little ironic that we were off to a Disney on Ice show, courtesy of Challenge, called “Let’s Celebrate!” However, on a wintry Melbourne night Josh, his little sister Mia, and I were soon doing just that as we got caught up in a spectacular party on ice, with all our dearest Disney friends! Despite being in hospital just a week earlier, and knowing that he would be re-admitted within days, Josh was feeling pretty well on the night and so we grabbed the opportunity to venture out and just be the normal family we used to be, albeit with a much greater appreciation for the ability to do so that than we ever had before.

Inside Challenge

Teen Night at Galactic Circus


Dancing with the Stars By Amy Fransen

I arrived at the Global Studios in South Melbourne on a cold Sunday night and was met by the Chairman of Challenge, Tom Gleisner.

My mum had asked Challenge if it would be possible for me to watch the filming of Dancing with the Stars one week because I love watching the show, and Tom made it possible. I was allowed to go back stage and mum and dad came with me.

We met the hosts of Dancing with the Stars, Daniel McPherson and Mel B, from the Spice Girls and one of the contestants, Johnny Ruffo! I was so excited because I love watching the show and especially the way Johnny moves on the dance floor with his

partner Luda. And it was a real buzz to see Mel B and Dan do an ad break take. I had a great night and so did Mum and Dad. Thank you so much Challenge, and especially Tom, for making this possible.

Margate Catering The preferred caterer for all Challenge events and activities

For all your catering needs please contact Andrew Martin at Margate Catering on 0430 474 735 or

47 Inside Challenge

Walking Onto the Ground with My Beloved Bombers By Grace Howard

couple of players who weren’t playing that night because of injury and they signed our jumpers and were really nice. Then it was time to line up against the wall and wait for the players to come out before running onto the ground. It was really hard to keep us all still, especially the younger kids, and lots of our family were leaning over to watch us from the stands.

I was so excited when I came home from school and Mum told me that Challenge had invited me to run out onto the ground at Etihad Stadium with the players from the Essendon Football Club.

There was a big group of kids and we all walked down underneath the ground and through the carpark into the player’s race area. We were each given an Essendon jumper that we could KEEP!! The players came past and went onto the ground for a quick warm up and when they came past again on their way back inside, they smiled at us. They were all so big!! While we were waiting for the main event, we met a

I was so excited when it was time to run out onto the ground that I forgot to look at which player came up beside me and grabbed my hand! I do remember him asking if I was nervous and I replied YES! We walked onto the ground together and then he ran through the banner with the other players and us kids went back to the race and then up to the stands to meet our families. You couldn’t wipe the smiles from our faces! Thank you so much Challenge for this opportunity, I will never forget it! Go Bombers!!!! Challenge are one in a million. Thanks heaps.


I am a huge Essendon fan and when I was having radiation and chemo treatment I met Nathan Lovett Murray, who is my favourite player. I never dreamed I would some day get to run out onto the ground with the whole team! I rang my Aunty Mel straight away, as she was the one who made me barrack for Essendon because Dad loved Geelong. She came to watch me run out. It was an overwhelming night at the football. Coming from the country we don’t get to go to the footy much and thank goodness Challenge gave Mum the call and I jumped at the chance to go! I left Mum and Dad and my brothers and off I went to see the team.



Reflections and Thanks Hi guys, Sarah has not stopped talking about the great time she had at Hamilton Camp! Thanks and well done.

has been up too and of course being invited on stage! The list went on and on, and Emily was asleep in the car by the time we got home.

Regards, Jenny, Wayne and Sarah

To all the helpers, visitors, and of course Sonia, for persuading us about how much fun the girls would have, we thank you very much. Even on coming home, the girls did not want to take off their jackets, so they were a real hit also.

To the team at Challenge, After enjoying some lunch upon picking up our two very excited but exhausted twins, Emily and Monique from Junior Camp, they have not stopped raving about the wonderful time they had. It will be the theme when they talk at Share & Learn at school this week. In the car on the way home, it started with tears from both girls, and once we calmed them down and wiped the tears away, they both expressed how they were already missing their leader Rebecca. Without stating the obvious, I think Rebecca captured their imaginations and their hearts, and as parents we could not ask for more, so thank you Rebecca for taking care of our girls. You’re a natural and they were very lucky. Then we got to hear about cooking, the jumping castle, the animal farm, the fire brigade visit, making play-dough, the flying fox, dinner, the police visit, their surprise costumes, and of course the visit from their absolute favourite fairy in Fairy Twinkletoes, with the sneezing of doughnuts, what Rufus

It was the first camp our girls had been on and hearing their stories, I know it will not be the last camp they will attend in years to come. Thank you again, it will be a weekend they will not forget. Kind regards, Nick, Dee, Emily & Monique

and volunteers for giving Bianca such a fantastic experience at Junior Camp. Cathie was a great leader for Bianca and seemed to enjoy Bianca’s company as much as Bianca enjoyed hers. We really enjoyed coming down for the BBQ today and Maxy told us he was keen to join Bianca at camp next time! It was lovely to have a break and know Bianca was so well looked after. Kind Regards, Janine & Chris

Hi, Thanks so much for organising Hamilton Camp. Both Andrew and Hannah enjoyed themselves immensely. We are very blessed to have lovely people like yourselves in our lives.

P.S. A further thank you from Dee and I, as the weekend was like a mini camp for us. We enjoyed a day’s shopping around town (shoes for Dee of course), which is something we had not done in a long time, a lovely lunch, coffee, a movie at home, dinner with just the two of us, which we really enjoyed. We did actually miss our girls jumping into bed with us early Sunday morning as they always do, but not that we will tell them that!

Thank you so much, Michelle

Dear Challenge, I just wanted to send a quick email to thank all the wonderful Challenge staff

Kind regards to you all, Mary

Dear Challenge, Thanks once again for including Robbie in your fantastic Hamilton Camp. He had a ball, as I am sure all the kids did. He was telling me about his new friend, Will, and how he was able to talk about Liam with him, which was nice to hear.

49 Inside Challenge

Reflections and Thanks Hey guys, Alex had such a nice time at Hamilton Camp, and she was still telling me all about it today after school. You guys do such amazing things with our kids, and I can’t thank you enough. You ALL deserve gold medals. Take care and big hugs, Lori

Dear Challenge, I don’t know where to start...

Hi Challenge, Thank you so much for the footy tickets; we had a ball. And Carlton won!!

I have spoken to my camper and his parents. I was so nervous but it all worked out great. Ryan’s Mum and I had a good chat and Ryan was so excited that I called that he yelled everything at me and I got to “see” his favourite toys (even though I really couldn’t see them!) Ryan had heaps to tell me and talk about!

Thank you again, Di, Ben and Sarah

I am pretty excited but a little nervous for my first camp, so be kind to me please! Catch you next Saturday! Janelle

Thanks again and please, please pass our thanks on to all of those people involved in the camp – it has given our whole family a huge lift and filled us up with a proper feelgood feeling!

Dear Challenge, I want to say a big thank you on behalf of Lachlan for the Musical Moment Scholarship. Thank you so much. We hope one day we will be able to give back for all the support Challenge has given us, including the holiday house in Torquay last year when our family, in particular our two sons, got to spent great bonding time with one another and as a whole family when we desperately needed break after Lachlan’s long hospital stay followed by two weeks in ICU.

Cheers, Mike

Big thanks again, Leila, Gordon, Lachlan and William

I don’t know quite how you managed to fit so much in to those three days as even this morning at breakfast there was an announcement that they had forgotten to tell me about the horse and cart ride. What?!

Emily, my girlfriend Katrina and I would like to thank you for a great night at the Diamonds Dinner last night. Also Katrina would like to thank the staff in the Crown Palladium kitchen for the delicious meal and the kindness that was shown to her because of her allergies. Yours sincerely, Helen

Hi Challenge Team, I just wanted to let you know how excited Grace is to be going to Junior Camp next week. She just spoke with Kerryn her camp leader and she can’t wipe the smile off her face!! I can’t put into words how grateful we are for the amazing work and services that you provide, not only to patients but to their families. Grace has never once complained, shown jealousy or resentment about the attention that her brother has received throughout his journey. I say that to you so you can see how special she feels to now experience something


Reflections & thanks

The boys did NOT stop talking about Hamilton Camp until they went to sleep last night. All I can say is that there was a universal consensus that the camp was the best one they had ever been on.

Hi, Just touching base as I got my letter for camp today in the post - yay!


Reflections and Thanks so different from her “normal” and for us to see her beam with happiness is really special. Thank you. You have given our gorgeous girl the best gift... and she hasn’t even left yet!!! Sarah, George, Jordan and Grace

Dear Challenge, We, the whole family, went to the Moonshadow Musical yesterday. It was fantastic and we had the best seats in the house. Just a note to say thank you very much for the tickets. Kind regards, Vera

Hey Guys, Just wanted to say thank you for two reasons; I had a wonderful night at the Diamonds Dinner on Thursday night, and my son Ryan has just been on his first Junior Camp and had a fantastic time.

Dear Challenge, Thanks so much for the tickets to the football. We had a ball and it was a great game. GO CATS!! From, Nicole, Mark, Sarah, Patrick and William


Challenge staff, families and volunteers have been deeply saddened by the loss of our muchloved members who have passed away since the production of our last magazine. We extend our deepest sympathies to the families of these children – our thoughts are with you.

Dear Challenge, Thanks so much for Junior Camp! James had a ball and once again was taken care of so well! Camps like this always seem to keep the memory of Caleb alive! Just wish he was alive to experience all of this!

Tom O’Hanlon

Now just crossing fingers and toes for Bella to go on Urban…

Jade Dharmawardena

From, Andrea

Jesse Barrow

Patrik Oakes Brodyn Davis Bailey Lang Kylie Lopez

Kayden Beer

Giovanna Ienco Fletcher Slater

You really are amazing Challenge, for all things you do for families like ours. Thank you so much!

Hi Challenge, I would like to thank you for the tickets to see “Annie”. I went to see it yesterday with Mum, Dad, and my sister Kristin and we had a great time. We haven’t been out much since I got sick, and for a few hours we got to forget about the bad stuff and enjoy a musical.

From, Karen

Thank you so much again, Jessica

Tomas Jovic Natasha Aroozoo Marmaduke Henry-Waring Asha Coles Trent Clapham

Inside Challenge - September 2012  

- Diamonds Dinner - Happy Father's Day! - Interview with Dannii Minogue