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Generosity eases pain

LIFE is not easy for Rae Stallard but on Sunday, she could not stop smiling.

She suffers from scleroderma, an auto immune disease that hardens her skin and damages major internal organs, but the condition has not hindered her inner drive.

The Sandy Point woman was one of the organisers of a fundraiser for Scleroderma Australia on Sunday and the public’s response filled her with happiness.

“The turnout has just been unbelievable,” she said.

About 90 people rode or walked on the Great Southern Rail Trail from Leongatha to Koonwarra, surpassing the event’s aim of the total number of kilometres travelled equalling the distance from Leongatha to St Vincent’s Hospital in Melbourne.

The hospital is the major care facility for scleroderma sufferers and is where most research is undertaken. Participants rode a total of 1200km – equivalent to about eight trips to the hospital.

A crowd then filled the Koonwarra Hall for a silent auction, afternoon tea, face painting and to learn more about the disease.

Holiday accommodation, music by Saskwatch, golf at the National Golf Club, tickets to The Footy Show and Essendon Football Club memorabilia signed by Bomber and Leongatha man Dyson Heppell were among the items auctioned.

The Heppell family has a close link to scleroderma. Mr Heppell was at the event in honour of his grandmother Corry Schelling who died from the condition last year.

His mother Ann-Maree Heppell was delighted with the response to the fundraiser.

“People have come from all over to support family and friends,” she said.

“It’s really exciting to see we are getting a reaction and that people are joining in.”

Funds raised from Sunday’s event and also donations totalled $14,465.

Ms Stallard was initially planning a smaller scale event at the Mirboo North home of her daughter Hannah Bordonaro but after her mother Vera Dowel of Leongatha South put her in touch with Mrs Heppell, the event grew.

The families approached businesses for donations and spread the word.

Ms Stallard used to run her own gym and enjoyed exercise and dancing. Despite having never smoked, scleroderma has reduced her lung capacity and limited her activities.

“You have just got to have a positive attitude. I have lived in third world countries where I have seen a lot of suffering and I know I’m not the most worse off person in the world,” she said.

 

Riding for a cause: from left, Dyson, Ann-Maree and Paul Heppell with Bede Stallard were overwhelmed by public support for the scleroderma fundraiser. Mrs Heppell’s mother Corry Schelling died from the condition and Mr Stallard’s mother Rae Stallard lives with it. They are at the Koonwarra Hall.

Riding for a cause: from left, Dyson, Ann-Maree and Paul Heppell with Bede Stallard were overwhelmed by public support for the scleroderma fundraiser. Mrs Heppell’s mother Corry Schelling died from the condition and Mr Stallard’s mother Rae Stallard lives with it. They are at the Koonwarra Hall.

Short URL: http://thestar.com.au/?p=15367

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