Why it's Craig's most important Dry July yet

The Greater Wollongong branch manager, Craig Mowbray. Picture: SYLVIA LIBER

The Greater Wollongong branch manager, Craig Mowbray. Picture: SYLVIA LIBER

MERCURY SERIES - Making A Difference

A highlight of Craig Mowbray's mornings is walking up to the calendar marked on a glass partition in the Greater Building Society's Wollongong branch and crossing off the day.

It is not because the former nurse is participating in Dry July and is counting the days until he can have a drink.

It's because it is another day towards his goal of raising money for two causes close to his heart.

The Greater branch manager is trying to save lives.

"This is my third year of Dry July and, so far, the most important," Mr Mowbray said.

"Being an ex-haematology nurse, I am very passionate about this year. I am raising money for not only the Illawarra Cancer Care Centres in Wollongong, Shellharbour, Kiama and Shoalhaven but also for one of our customers, Bronwyn Johnson.

"Mrs Johnson is a 40-year-old mother of two young children and has been battling breast cancer for the past six years. The cancer has now spread through her body to the brain and bones.

"There is a new treatment that costs $22,000, which could be Bronwyn's last resort. This course of treatment starts in August, however the specialist requires the funds upfront for each of three infusions as it is not backed as yet by government subsidies.

"Myself and the team at The Greater Wollongong have opened an account to raise money so that we can help her gain enough money to have this treatment. The account name is Bronwyn Johnson. The BSB is 637-000 and the account number is 720300281."

Mr Mowbray is encouraging people to donate directly to that account at any Greater branch to help Mrs Johnson.

He said this year's Dry July gained added meaning when two of his staff, Lorraine Erskine and Julie Piccirillo, told him about Mrs Johnson, who already had many medical expenses she could not afford to pay.

"The $22,000 is for the first course, which is three infusions, one every three weeks," Mrs Johnson said.

"I have to get onto that access program before the end of August."

Mrs Johnson was left speechless when she found what The Greater team in Wollongong were doing.

"I was just so humbled when Lorraine rang me two weeks ago," she said.

"The boss there doesn't know me. He just knows me as Lorraine's friend so I am just blown away by their generosity.

"I was just stuck and did not know how I was going to get the money, which we don't have. What holds us back from going forward are treatments that aren't funded by the government.

"When this treatment came up, it is pretty much the only option I have. I am just blown away that the team at The Greater Wollongong is prepared to do this for us."

Mrs Johnson was originally diagnosed with breast cancer six years ago when she was 35.

"It came back three years later," she said.

Mr Mowbray said anyone could go into any branch of The Greater and mention Mrs Johnson by name to donate directly to help her with her medical bills.

And people can also help the Illawarra Cancer Centre by sponsoring him during Dry July.

To help Mr Mowbray and his team help the Illawarra Cancer Centre click on http://au.dryjuly.com/team/greaterwollongong.

Mr Mowbray said he generally only had one drink a day with his evening meal and giving that up was a very small price to pay.

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