Organisers of a fundraiser for the family of 4-year-old Balclutha girl Esme Palmer, who is battling lymphoma, have praised the community for its “top-class support”.
What started out as a couple of mates asking what could they do for a friend turned into a charity event at the T20 cricket grand final in Balclutha on Saturday.
A member of the organising team, Simon Cleverley, said it had all happened quickly a couple of weeks ago when co-organiser Francis Parker suggested they do something for Esme and her parents, Jason Palmer and Megan Balchin.
An organising group was quickly made up of sportsmen from different codes in the Clutha district and the whole community got behind it,” Mr Cleverley said.
“When they heard of the auction, people just started dropping off lots at the yard in Balclutha.”
“We had hoped initially to raise $5000. Instead we ended up raising more than $35,000 from 51 lots for the auction.”
“It was top-class support we received from the community.
Mr Parker said a wonderful collection of local businesses and individuals came together to support the T20 finals and raise money to help the Palmer family.
“We never thought we would have made anywhere near as much as we had and it’s all because of the generosity of the local community,” he said.
“Esme Palmer is currently battling stage four Burkitt’s lymphoma in Christchurch and the whole community has gotten behind her.”
The organisers used the finals of South Otago Cricket’s T20 competition held at the Balclutha Showgrounds on Saturday as the focus of their fundraising.
Using social media, they brought together a collection of charity auction bids which included signed sporting memorabilia, services, gift baskets and a 10-person high tea.
“Before a ball was even bowled on Saturday afternoon the auction had already raised over $23,000. So many awesome people and businesses came to the party to support a great cause,” Mr Parker said.
Once the balls and bails started flying, more sponsored elements came on tap, covering the number of fours, sixes, runs scored or wickets taken.
There were cash donations for any shot that hit the Cross Recreation Centre roof (two did) or for a one-handed crowd catch.
Esme’s father Mr Palmer said they were “overwhelmed with the outpouring of love and support for our precious and beautiful princess Esme.”
“We will be forever grateful for the support that we are receiving from the local community, which, alongside the wonderful charities Ronald McDonald House and the Child Cancer Foundation, have meant that right from the beginning the only thing we have had to worry about is Esme and getting our heads around her treatment plan.”
The sentiments were echoed by Esme’s aunt, Laura Allan, who attended the bash on Saturday and spoke on behalf of the family.
“It’s hard to express in words how much we appreciate the generosity and kindness shown to our family,” Mrs Allan said.
The couple said they were amazed to watch from afar as their community pulled together to raise funds to help them, Mrs Allan said.
Mr Cleverly said on Monday the proceeds were still being counted and asked people to continue to give through the Givealittle page.