Kanahooka teenager Clara Bates is beaming this Christmas following the generosity of a Wollongong business.
Clara is about to turn 14 and is growing so fast she is in urgent need of a new bigger easier to transport wheelchair.
Project Portfolio Management (PPM) chief executive Troy McDonald found out about her need when he spoke to Disability Trust’s Kids Fund manager Belinda Dawson. Mr McDonald said the Wollongong based engineering consultancy then decided to give an $8,700 donation for a new wheelchair which will arrive in weeks.
Mr McDonald was heavily involved in fundraising for charity when he was the president of Illawarra Coal where he supported initiatives such as Run Wollongong. When he moved to PPM as chief executive a year ago he undertook a similar approach to helping people in need in the Illawarra community.
Ms Dawson said there were many generous businesses in the Illawarra region but this donation was something else.
“We have many kids in the Illawarra living with disabilities and peoples’ generous donations help us buy the essential aids and equipment that dramatically improves a kid’s and their family’s lives. Of course, as kids grow their needs change and we work hard to help them on that journey. In this case PPM approached us...wanting to make a donation to Kids Fund and do something special for someone,” he said.
Generous donations help us buy the essential aids and equipment that dramatically improves a kid’s and their family’s livesBelinda Dawson
Clara has Cerebral Palsy and requires a wheelchair and walker.
“She does not walk independently,” Ms Dawson said.
She is very active and this year was selected to compete for the Australia Junior Title in Boccia which is a Paralympic sport. The new wheelchair will be transportable unlike the smaller one she presently uses but has outgrown.
Clara’s mother Julie Hicks said the new larger wheelchair is going to make an enormous difference.
PPM employs 100 people and when Mr McDonald told his team about the company’s significant donation at a staff Christmas function everyone was so moved they opened their wallets and purses and donated and further $1300 directly to Kids Fund. “’All in all it is a $10,000 donation,” he said.
He said everyone had tears in their eyes when a video was played about Clara at the Lagoon Seafood Restaurant. I think that demonstrates how our people truly care for others".
Kids Fund is an Illawarra-based charity managed by The Disability Trust and purchases aids and equipment for children with disabilities living in the Wollongong, Kiama and Shellharbour local government areas.
The Disability Trust administers Kids Fund with no administration charge. 100 per cent of donations are spent on equipment such as wheelchairs, walkers, orthotics, strollers, seating/positioning systems, communication devices/iPads, beds and sensory equipment.
Kids Fund assists when no other funding source is available, and since 1999 Kids Fund has spent $1,274,757 across 651 pieces of equipment for local Illawarra children.
All Kids Fund applications are reviewed by an inter-organisational allocation committee consisting of volunteer therapists and a community representative.
They review, prioritise and approve applications on a six-monthly basis.
“Kids Fund is our commitment to the community, but it would not be possible without the assistance and generosity of spirit of our wonderful supporters like PPM whose donation directly assists local children”. Ms Dawson said.
Mr McDonald said PPM was growing organically and was now one of the largest engineering service providers in the Illawarra that was exporting engineering capability to Western Australia.
“We have reached a size now where we feel we are big enough to have the capability to give more back to the community,” he said.
“Traditionally we give ham to our key suppliers..but we thought this was a good opportunity to give back to someone in need. We wanted to make a significant contribution to change someones life.”