Archive for May, 2011

May 27, 2011

Our Heroes the Firefighters

Wow, last week we ran the Firefighter Sky Tower Challenge. Once again it was a fabulous day and huge success.

This event is now a New Zealand tradition and this year attracted 440 firefighters from over 120 brigades all around New Zealand. We welcomed brigades from north, south, east and west, with firefighters from Moerewa and Kawakawa in the north right down to Wanaka, Arrrowtown and you can’t get further south – without being in Stewart Island – than Riverton!

Last year I took part in the race in full firefighting gear, all 25 kgs of it, and I can honestly say it was the most physically challenging thing I have ever done.  It’s a pretty daunting exercise but an experience I treasure. So it is with renewed respect and awe to see the wonderful firefighters in action again on our behalf.

This year too it was particularly heart-warming to welcome the brigades from the Canterbury region, Kaiapoi, Lyttleton, Brooklands and Christchurch City Station.

It is very humbling watching as these community heroes lined up to storm up 51 flights of stairs – or 1,103 steps – to the top of Auckland’s majestic Sky Tower in their full firefighting kit and breathing apparatus which is seriously heavy!  As they raced to the top I caught the lift with my team and we waited at the top of the tower to see who would emerge first.  The anticipation was immense.  It might be a charity race but boy do they go for it!

Firefighters are some of the most respected and admired people in our communities and when you see the energy they pour into this annual event you can’t help but think these are also some of the most generous people on the planet.  They give so much back.

Leading up to the day the firefighters were very actively, and creatively, fundraising in their communities, the total will be over $175,000, an incredibly amazing result.

We’re so grateful for the funds raised. I’d like to give a special mention to Auckland Airport Rescue Fire who reached a new record of fundraising, a staggering $26,154! All funds raised will go towards our core services, allowing LBF to continue supporting patients and their families when they receive the life-changing diagnosis of a blood cancer.

And so to the results ….last year’s winner, Paul Gerritsen, was out to defend his title for fastest man but was edged out by his flatmate Josh Harrison from Otara Station with a time of eight minutes and 45 seconds.  These are simply unbelievable times and not achieved without incredible dedication to fitness and training. The fastest female title was given to Rebecca Kemp, from Onehunga Station, with a time of 14 minutes and nine seconds.

The Challenge is now in its 8th year and I would like to say a huge thank you to all our sponsors who helped make this event such a success: New Zealand Fire Service, SkyCity, Auckland Airport, St John, High Pressure Equipment and Otakiri Springs.

A huge thanks to all participants and supporters from all of us here at the LBF.

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May 20, 2011

Shave11 – biggest ever

I am thrilled to report that Shave 11 has been our best ever. So far in 2011, we have raised more than $900,000, with more contributions coming in every day, and nearly 3700 people shaving. That’s more than double the number of participants of last year, when $650,000 was raised.

These are incredible results as Shave 11 (April 4-10) took place just weeks after the devastating earthquake in Christchurch. Interestingly, we had a large number of Shave events happening in the Canterbury region. The generosity of people in that part of the country is even more remarkable against the background of the ‘quake.

I want to extend huge and heartfelt thanks on behalf of patients and families to all who supported Shave, and to acknowledge everyone who got behind the earthquake appeal. The people of Christchurch need the ongoing support of the nation, so showing that solidarity was the right thing to do.

More schools were involved in this year’s Shave and over 100 firms took part including big corporates such as SkyCity and Westpac. This was all the more impressive as the country struggles to emerge from the recession.

A continuing trend we noted was the very high number of female shavees. About 1,200 women shaved, around a third of the total, which was higher than previous years.

Shave events were held around the country from Whangarei to Invercargill. Shave is clearly touching a nerve throughout the country, and our television advertisement featuring six-year-old Kole certainly helped spur action around New Zealand.

Media were very supportive. The New Zealand Herald came on board to host and promote a photo competition, the first time the country’s largest daily newspaper partnered with a charity on such a contest. The competition was a great success and we look forward to building on it next year.

Altruism is obviously alive and well in New Zealand. People sometimes feel powerless to help all the needy in their community, but Shave seems to speak to many of us. Shaving is something anyone can do, be they a school pupil or an office worker, whether they are closely connected to someone with a blood cancer or not.

We are, quite simply, blown away by the support we’ve received throughout the country. Kiwis are a very generous lot! A heartfelt thank you to all participants and supporters from all of us here at the foundation.

Our challenge will be to keep up the fundraising at the level we need for the remainder of the year. The 2011 Firefighter Sky Tower Challenge on Saturday May 21 is the next big event for us.