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LHF turns 23 – celebrating the moments that made our foundation what it is today!

Including our Founding Chairman Chris McDermott’s take on the last 23 years

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:

23. Celebrating Christmas annually with our Little Heroes
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.

22. Thank you Skycity
SkyCity supported many of our fundraisers, such as our Monopoly Board Games, Slowdown, and much more. You name it, SkyCity were part of it.

21. Thanking one of our first major sponsors – Bosch
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.

20. Dr Flett an inspiration to all at team Little Heroes.
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!

19. Revolutionising facilities and surgery options with our Endoscopic Suite project
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.

18. The ‘Mighty South Aussies’ supporting Little Heroes in need.
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.

17. Ambassadors taking one step further to support our cause… by joining our team!
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.

16. 2012 New York Marathon crew raise close to $280,000
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.

15. Upgrading the Michael Rice Centre for Haematology and Oncology
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.

14. Supporting butterflies beneath their bandages through a partnership with Debra Australia, thanks to the Krause Family
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.

13. SAFM Full Monty Fundraiser
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.

12. Building the Playdeck and adjoining Café for families.
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.

11. Providing a brand new MRI Machine for Children and Families at the WCH.
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!

10. Providing a world class Robotic Rehabilitation Centre at the WCH
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.

9. ‘Building Dreams’ with our House and Land Fundraisers
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!

8. A ‘Moo-gnificent’ partnership with Fleurieu Milk
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!

7. Introducing our Little Heroes Care Program (Child Family Care)
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.

6. Life First. Appearance Second – Anna Meares’ head shave fundraiser
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.

5. Becoming Little Heroes Foundation
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.

4. Creating the SA Icons Monopoly
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.

3. First project – McGuinness McDermott Foundation Clinic
Our first major project was refurbishing the existing Cancer facility at the WCH to become the McGuinness McDermott Foundation Children’s Clinic.

2. Creating the iconic West End Slowdown
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.

1. Meeting Nicholas Berry and Nathan McLean
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.

2019 and beyond

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 beyond.

Check out the video that Channel 7 created for our 20th Birthday celebrations in 2016, featuring old archive footage and more.