WONGAN Hills may not be a big town but what it lacks in size it makes up for in community spirit.
This will be on show when community members get together for an event close to their heats – the Wongan Hills Lap-a-thon that will be held at the local sports ground on Saturday, March 11, raising funds for Melanoma Institute Australia.
Kate Whyte, Bree Cocking, Yvonne Sachse and Tasha Abbott – who have affectionately named themselves the ‘moles’ – came up with the event idea late last year to support close friend and local resident Lucinda Ryan who has been diagnosed with Stage 4 Melanoma.
Mother of Ava, 7, and George, 3, and wife to Anthony, Lucinda has been determined to raise awareness about the skin cancer since her first diagnosis in 2005.
Over the past two years she has raised more than $40,000 for the Melanoma Institute Australia through her participation in the HBF Run for a Reason.
Melanoma Institute Australia is a non-profit organisation that is working to prevent and cure melanoma through research, treatment and education programs.
Kate said Lucinda’s close group of friends decided it was time to lend her a helping hand, and get to work raising more funds for the organisation.
“I was very aware of the fact that Lu had been struggling through last year with her treatments and I thought it was a bit unfair that she was shouldering the burden of also fundraising for her cause,” she said.
“That’s where it started and we just hit the ground running.
“We had a few secret meetings before we had something to present to Lu and her husband to make sure it was ok with them and it has just really snowballed from there.”
More than 160 participants have registered for the Lap-a-thon and will make their way to the Wongan Hills Sports Ground on the day, to walk or run laps around the oval, raising money along the way.
Several bands, a DJ, face painting, pony rides, a bouncy castle, movies and games will keep everyone entertainment.
Two specialised doctors will also be at the event, offering skin assessments for a gold coin donation.
Several big ticket auction items will be offered, including a five-night accommodation package to the Mackerel Islands for four guests.
Accommodation and food packages are also on offer for Crown Towers Perth and the New Norcia Hotel.
A range of sports memorabilia will be auctioned off, including boxing gloves signed by Danny Green and a signed Wildcats photograph.
The event concludes with a performance from Perth band Afterglo and a spit-roast dinner.
Lucinda said the aim of the day was to raise awareness about melanoma, particularly to local school children.
“It’s beautiful to see the kids thinking about a cause beyond a sporting club or something they’re competing for,” she said.
“It’s great for them to become aware of issues beyond themselves and see that the money will go towards a really good cause and they’re all just loving it, the idea of putting zinc cream on and running around the oval.”
She said primary schools in Wongan Hills, Yerecoin and Moora had been extremely supportive and were using the event to educate students about the affects of melanoma.
Bree said community support had been overwhelming with more than 40 local sponsors.
“Very early on in the conception of getting this event off the ground, it was very clear to us that we wanted to really maintain the community spirit that comes with living in a rural town,” she said. “It’s obviously a cause that actually means a lot to people in rural enterprise and a lot of our sponsors are agriculturally based.”
Very early on in the conception of getting this event off the ground, it was very clear to us that we wanted to really maintain the community spirit that comes with living in a rural town
According to National Rural Health Alliance research from 2014, the incidence of melanoma is higher for country than city men, with farmers having a 60 per cent higher death rate due to melanoma and other malignant skin cancers than the general population.
The research also found skin cancer deaths in farmers 65 years of age and over are more than double the rate of other Australians.
Lucinda said she was humbled by all the support offered by the local community.
“I think it’s because it is something that is so broad and affects everybody, it’s something that is bigger than all of us.
“It’s not about me, it’s about the cause and everyone has been touched in some way by either skin cancer or melanoma and everyone has their own story.”
Registrations are open online until Sunday, March 5 at trybooking.com/book/event?eid=256591.
Donations can be made on the day or online at melanomainstituteau2016.gofundraise.com.au/page/WHMML2017.
Melanoma is a form of skin cancer that develops in the pigment cells of the skin, known as the melanocytes.
It is the most dangerous form of skin cancer, and if left untreated can grow and spread quickly.
Melanoma can be caused by overexposure to UV radiation, and those with fair skin, a high mole count and family history are more susceptible to the cancer.
For more information on skin cancer see: https://www.melanoma.org.au/