Wednesday, 29 May 2019
Today, Little Heroes Foundation celebrates 23 years of operation, and what a ride it has been. We’ve welcomed new faces, farewelled some familiar ones, met thousands of amazing families and supported even more through our projects. Over the years, through donations, fundraising, our events and corporate sponsors, we have reached over $33 million raised.
Our Founder, Chairman and CEO Chris McDermott has been here for every triumph, challenge and everything in between, and we thought now is as good a time as any to see which 23 moments stand out for him as our biggest and most important highlights over this incredible journey. Take it away Chris!
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When our foundation started 23 years ago, we wanted to do something big. Through my time with the Adelaide Football Club, I was privileged to meet many young families with children at our local Women’s and Children’s Hospital. Tony and myself learned that at the time, SA was behind other states as far as facilities and state-of-the-art equipment goes. We decided to, as Roy and HG Nelson called it, become “two boofhead footballers using their mugs to raise money for crook kids.”
And that was what we did.
These are my highlights (in no particular order) from the last 23 years.
How could I not include this? Our annual Christmas celebration is one of the best events to be a part of as it allows us to give our Little Heroes families something to smile about, despite what they might be going through behind closed doors.
SkyCity supported many of our fundraisers, such as our Monopoly Board Games, Slowdown, and much more. You name it, SkyCity were part of it.
Bocsh Hot Water were one of the first businesses to become a major sponsor of our foundation and in their time with us, raised close to $1 million for our cause! A big thank you to Kent and Mark for the role they played in making this partnership happen.
Every now and then, we meet exceptional people that go above and beyond when it comes to supporting our cause. Dr John Flett is one of those people. A former GP of more than 40 years, Dr Flett’s art exhibitions have helped raise thousands for our programs, at 98, he’s not finished yet!
This project not only allowed for new and less-invasive surgery techniques (keyhole surgery) for children, but it also enhanced the way in which the WCH were able to diagnose, remove and monitor a child’s condition. It was another step on our journey towards ensuring these children have access to the best care available.
Foodland have been an important part of so many fundraisers, from selling our Monopoly board games, selling tickets in our House and Land lottery, to hosting multiple car raffles! They call themselves the Mighty South Aussies, and our success would not have been possible without them.
Our ambassadors are an integral part of what we do, and it has been a pleasure to not only have so many iconic South Aussies support our cause, but to also welcome a few of them as members of our staff! Thank you to Tony Modra, Anna Meares (both current), Nat Von Bertouch, Dom Cassisi and so many more for taking your commitment to our cause one step further.
We’ve held many successful Adventure Tour campaigns, but non have a story that matches that of our 2012 New York Marathon team. Supporting strongly by Pete and Aggie’s incredible weightloss campaign (Lose 40 to run 40), the event itself was cancelled, following Hurricane Sandy that had ripped through New York the week prior. So the team all had to return the following year to finally complete their marathon fundraising efforts! Rumour has it they may be headed back for a final time in 2020.
This was our biggest refurbishment project, and with a price tag of $2 million, it wasn’t cheap either. But it was worth every cent. This centre revolutionised and transformed the way seriously ill children in our state are diagnosed and treated.
While I don’t normally like to single out families, the Krause Family have been an integral part of our story. Their daughter Ivy (who unfortunately passed away in October 2018) was born with a serious and rare skin condition, and inspired a national partnership with Debra Australia, to provide nursing support to other EB Families across the country.
The SAFM supported ‘Full Monty’ Fundraiser was certainly a different way to raise funds for the families in need. Was it a highlight or lowlight? You decide! There will be no repeat.
We recognised early on that providing a space for families to enjoy outside of a hospital room (when they could) was an important of part of their overall wellbeing. Even today, families are still enjoying this addition to the WCH, especially the NicNat café named in honour of Nicholas Berry and Nathan McLean.
Our first MRI Machine was also our first project to crack that $1 million target, and crack it we did, raising over $1.9 million to provide the hospital with this brand new ‘submarine’ themed piece of equipment. Plus we loved this project so much, we did it again in 2012, providing a second MRI machine with its lighting package to ease children into the procedure!
This project represented coming full circle, with our previous projects focussing on the diagnosis and treatment stages of the journey our Little Heroes go on. This Centre for Robotics and Innovation is all about the future, combining state-of-the-art machinery with modern techniques to help these kids get back on their feet sooner.
From Mawson Lakes to an apartment in the city and this year, a luxury Finesse Built home in the heart of Somerton Park. Our Hound and Land Fundraisers have been integral for our fundraising and we look forward to providing more opportunities like this in the future – watch this space!
Fleurieu Milk Company are one of SA’s biggest businesses, and we are honoured and humbled to have been involved with this generous group for almost 10 years!
After funding quite a few refurbishments and equipment upgrades, we soon realised that there were families in SA that still needed our help, but not in the way we had thought. We introduced our Little Heroes Care Program as a way to provide practical and financial support to families, to help make life that little bit easier.
Anna had spoken to us a few times about wanting to fundraise for our cause, but we could never have imagined how successful her head shave in 2014 would be. Over $215,000 was raised, kick starting our fundraising for our most recent major project – the Centre for Robotics and Innovation.
Our 2010 transformation provided an opportunity to revitalise our brand and look at what made our foundation special. I can’t hide from the reason the move was made, this is an important piece of the puzzle that is this organisation.
What started as a simple suggestion in a group brainstorm became a $5 million + fundraiser for our projects to support kids in need. Our SA Icons Monopoly (and the other editions that followed) remains our biggest fundraiser ever.
Our first major project was refurbishing the existing Cancer facility at the WCH to become the McGuinness McDermott Foundation Children's Clinic.
Our Slowdown was one of those things that started with a simple concept and grew into something we could never have anticipated. A big thank you to the players, sponsors, West End, the SA public for their support of this event.
These two boys started it all. I still think about them often and it was Tony and my privilege to have been friends with them both all those years ago.
I’ll be the first to admit that the last few years
have been hard for the foundation. There’s growing competition in the
not for profit space and we have not been immune to the changes that
have presented themselves along the way.
However, challenges are there for a reason; to
challenge us, and we have met every challenge head on, with the aim of
moving towards to bigger and better things in the years to come.
Our loyal supporters, partners, donors, event
attendees and more are as important as ever for us, and I thank each and
every one of them for allowing us to continue this journey in 2019 and
Check out the video that Channel 7 created for our 20th Birthday celebrations in 2016, featuring old archive footage and more.
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