It’s very rare these days that people leave me gobsmacked.
But last week you did.
You know exactly who you are. You’re the ones who banded together to help out a northern beaches mum and her disabled twins. You’re the ones who wrote cheques, sent cash and donated items for auction to help a family many of you had never met.
You’re the ones who raised enough money to fund a wheelchair-access van for two six-year-old girls.
In a world where we’re told society is crumbling, communities are fractured and nobody gives a damn about neighbourhoods, I witnessed first hand a community spirit that beggared belief.
I wrote about Hannah and Amelia Young to raise awareness of their Rett Syndrome, a genetic disorder which renders healthy babies disabled, usually by the age of 18 months. Hannah and Amelia, at 12 months babbling responsive little girls, are at age six fed by tube and confined to wheelchairs.
Not only did you become aware, you sprang into action, responding with support that has left the girls’ family overwhelmed and humbled.
I also underestimated the power of community, a community far from fractured but instead tightly, tightly bound.
You gave and gave and gave, and then gave some more. So much so, that a phenomenal $27,000 was donated, even before the fundraiser kicked off last Friday night at Miramare Gardens.
Host of the Tomorrow For The Young Twins television personality James Mathison, summed it up when he welcomed nearly 300 guests.
“We are here tonight as a community,” he said. “Many of us are strangers to each other, but we have come together to help Hannah and Amelia. This is what community is all about.”
And indeed it was. It was all about the dozens of auction items you donated, the fabulous hamper put together by Nadine Newell of Plus Maternity, the signed Manly Sea Eagles jersey which fetched $1700, the Lunchboxes With Love, the clothing, the toys, the shoes, the scooters, the skateboards, the gorgeous RagaMuffin Tutu…. tables were groaning under the weight of your endless generosity. It was all about the auction of paintings by Hannah and Amelia. Hannah’s, bought for $2,700 by local company Beers R Us, was given straight back to her mum, while Amelia’s, bought for $3,000 by family friends, will be hung in their children’s room to remind them daily how very precious our children are.
It was about the entertainment from Rockfish, the gorgeous balloons from Pop It! the delicious Cake Pops from Cake Pop Bakery, all of them rallying together to give.
The night raised $57,000, with 10 percent donated directly to the Westmead Children’s Hospital. The rest goes into the Hannah and Amelia Young Trust Fund, a wonderful start to ensuring a more secure future for these dear little girls.
During a time when finances are tight, when sometimes we feel communities are lost and disjointed, this family received extraordinary help, and a comforting reminder of how much we really do rally and stick together when times are tough.
I take my hat off to all of you, to a community, which never gave up on two little girls who so desperately needed your help.
You truly are amazing.