The Sunshine State’s toughest builders were forced to hand over more than $60,000 at the Gold Coast Turf Club on Saturday, 6 July 2019 but it wasn’t to make good on playing the ponies.
Instead, the champions of construction were compelled to donate to children’s cancer research after hearing about the life and death struggle of the new-born daughter of one of their own.
“Within minutes of being born, Blakely was taken from us,” said Danny Simpson, Managing Director of North Australian Contracting. “We were told to prepare for the worst and say your goodbyes.”
“The sound a machine makes when it's flat-lining is terrible. The sound it makes when it’s your own daughter - it is absolutely indescribable.”
Thankfully for Danny and wife Carlie, their baby girl’s life was saved that day back in 2016. But it would take the collaborative efforts of medical researchers from around the globe to determine the difficult diagnosis of Ewing-like sarcoma and develop a treatment plan.
“I faced the worst news any parent could ever hear, ‘Your daughter has cancer, but we don't know what type, what the odds are, and we don't even know how to treat it’,” said Simpson.
“Now, after more than 50 general anaesthetics, countless surgeries, more than 60 weeks of chemo, hundreds of visits to the hospital for blood transfusions, injections, antibiotics, scans and emergency procedures, Blakely has been cancer free for longer than she had this terrible disease for.”
Blakely is cradled by her mum Carlie during treatment.
Simpson had the room on mute as he addressed the crowd of hard-boiled builders at Aquis Park hosted by Rondo Building Services to raise money for The Kids’ Cancer Project.
Rondo, a global player in wall and ceiling systems, partnered with the independent national charity in March 2019, pledging to raise funds through various activities across all their Australian operations as Rondo’s Executive General Manager, Greg Thomas, explained.
“This very deserving and worthwhile charity partner, The Kids’ Cancer Project, certainly resonated strongly with our key business partners and customers,” said Thomas.
“The event was an outstanding success due to their unsolicited active involvement in encouraging each other to contribute generously throughout the day.”
“The success of the day really does belong to them. An absolutely outstanding effort on their part,” he said.
Owen Finegan, CEO of the charity, was humbled by the generosity of Rondo’s Queensland community who gave so generously during just one event.
“We rely on our corporate partners to step up to help children with cancer,” said Finegan.
“Bold medical research is urgently needed to improve treatments and spare the lives of countless children like Blakely now and in the future.”
“With Rondo’s ongoing community support, the scientists we fund can discover real solutions,” he said.
While Simpson’s story has a happy ending for two-year-old Blakely, he’s cautiously optimistic yet grimly candid about the uncertain future she faces and said that medical professionals today don’t know what the long-term chances are of her remaining cancer free.
Danny wishes for nothing but blue skies for his daughter.
“The only way that we can work this out is by research,” said Simpson.
“Many people have been impacted at some point by cancer, be it through friends, family or co-workers, but it’s worse when it's a child."
"They have not lived a life yet, they are innocent, they are helpless and because of this, they need our help.”
The Simpson family, Rondo and The Kids’ Cancer Project thank CSR Gyprock, USG Boral, North Australian Contracting, Wadsworth Contracting, Bayside Plasterboard and Building Supplies, Emrock Building Supplies, Precision Interior Walls and Ceilings, Superior Walls and Ceilings, and Barry Hamilton & Sons, as well as all their customers for their support on the day.