MERCURY SERIES - Making A Difference
What is Happy Harry up to now?
He is helping Happy Harry.
For many years Happy Harry was a much-loved character in the Illawarra Mercury who did giveaways for six weeks every summer holidays.
People swarmed to every location for the chance to meet him and grab some of the many goodies on offer.
Over the years Happy Harry was played by different people including two of the region's favourite entertainment sons Scott Radburn and Rikki Organ.
But Rikki has been battling cancer for five years and two months ago was not expected to live after he succumbed to double pneumonia and his family were called to his bedside.
Preparing for the worst, his mate Scott posted a message on Facebook and the overwhelming response helped Rikki pull through when doctors didn't think he would.
"I got a telephone call from Graham Wilson and he said 'have you heard about Rikki'," Scott said.
"I left a few messages and tried the home phone many times and then I put it out there on Facebook. The response was overwhelming and Jane (Rikki's wife) alerted Rik while he was really critical."
Noting just how many people loved the former winner of Bert Newton's popular television talent show New Faces and many MO Awards for entertainment, his mate wanted to do something.
So Scott, himself a multi MO Award winner with the Four Kinsmen, decided to help his friend.
He knew of Rikki's mounting medical expenses for new drugs and treatment at a time when he was finding it hard to work and pay the bills.
So he organised a charity fundraiser at Centro CBD on October 11.
More than 150 people booked a seat and many have offered to donate prizes.
Rikki said he initially felt embarrassed but agreed to the night on the condition he also got to perform.
"It will be great to see a lot of nice people," he said.
"Those people who wished me well certainly helped me through and inspired me."
The Happy Harry in him just wants to keep giving as he has done throughout his entire career when he has met people in need.
It is one of the reasons he supports the annual Leukaemia Foundation golf day every October to help another mate Greg Thurling support others with leukaemia and their families.
Rikki, who originally trained as an electrician, did the Happy Harry role at the Illawarra Mercury towards the mid 1980s after Scott played the role, while also selling advertising from around 1981.
Scott said Rikki did countless things for other people that he never sought attention for.
But everyone who knows him knows just what a giving person he is.
Rikki was originally diagnosed with multiple myeloma blood cancer in 2009 and started chemotherapy in March 2010.
He had 18 million stem cells removed and then had a stem cell transplant with six million of the cells in August 2010.
But nothing has kept him off the stage.
Rikki presently has total numbness in both feet, no taste or smell and no feeling in his fingers.
But he is still working at the Builders Club during the week and doing many MCing duties and performances as well as shows in various rest homes for the elderly.
Looking back at the recent messages of support he said he did not realise just how much love he had around him.
He, his wife Jane and children Taylour'e Louise and Tyne-James also want to use the October event to say thank you.
Bookings can be made online at www.danzegallery.com.au.
Rikki said it was great to have so many people want to do something for him while he was still around to see it.
He does not plan on letting anyone down by missing the event.
He said nothing would ever stop him from walking on stage until he draws his final breath.
Performing and bringing joy and smiles to other people is what he loves the most.
Following the recent show of support from so many he plans to be around for some time yet.