It’s a few minutes before the 24 Hour Fight Against Cancer officially starts but already the enthusiasm is infectious. Both in the VIP area behind the microphone and in the grandstand there are happy faces and lots and lots of energy on this warm and sunny Saturday morning.
Mayor George Brticevic, MPs Dr Mike Freelander, Anoulack Chanthivong and Councillor Darcy Lound – these are politicians who have been to more functions than we have had hot dinners, and yet they genuinely look happy to be part of this particular Macarthur jamboree.
I mention this to 24 Hour chairman Warren Morrison and he agrees, saying that this is a “happy charity’’.
Many of the faces in the grandstand are also familiar; here’s citizen of the year Ric Lonza and his daughter, behind him I spy Sal Saad, the community minded cleaning guru and his family.
Bernadette O’Neil-Siambis, who is on the 24 Hour committee, is with husband Andrew and daughter Raphaela, who has run for the past three years the Actions Speak Louder Than Words fundraiser with her buddies from St Peter’s Anglican primary school.
Uncle Ivan Wellington’s welcome to country, Warren Morrison’s address and Dr Stephen Della-Fiorentina’s vote of thanks words are followed by an uplifting and sometimes funny speech from Matthew Wood, a young man battling cancer.
“How good was Woodsy,’’ Morrison tells me as I interview him during the first lap around the athletics track of Campbelltown Sports Stadium.
“I met him while walking a lap after midnight last year. And here he is this year,’’ Mr Morrison said.
The 24 Hour Fight Against Cancer Macarthur walk is the culmination of several fundraisers, which over 15 years have produced more than $4.3 million for our hospital’s cancer therapy centre.
And while fundraising continues on this 24 hour event, Warren Morrison wants to emphasise the fact that there’s so much else happening he’d love to see more people drop in and enjoy it.
He also wants to create an awareness that this is not just a Campbelltown thing but one that embraces the whole of the Macarthur region.
“As I said, we’re the happiest charity around as well as the charity that turns every cent it raises over to the hospital to improve the facilities and treatment of cancer patients,’’ he says.
“On a day like today – we have more than 100 teams – I meant what I said, have fun.
“That’s what I am mostly looking forward to over the next 24 Hours – everyone here having fun.
“But I really want to get the message out that it’s for the whole of Macarthur.
“We will concentrate on the awareness next year, because we want more people to come to this event.
“As I said it’s not all about money, it’s also about people knowing what we do with the cancer therapy centre.’’
If you don’t believe me or Warren Morrison that this is one community jamboree worth turning up to, check it out for yourself when it rolls around again in 2020.
And then you’ll see…