Current research is finding better treatments, building capabilities and developing survivorship programs with the support of the sailing community.
Anyone who has walked the docs in Sydney or Hobart prior to or following the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race in recent years may have seen signs, donation buckets and maybe even a big bear rising money for The Kids’ Cancer Project.
2021 will be no different; sailing vessels Patrice and Wings are again using their planned participation in the iconic race to raise awareness and much needed funds to help find a cure as well as kinder, more effective cancer treatments for children.
Their efforts, supported by other yachts, have raised more than $200,000 to support childhood cancer research through The Kids’ Cancer Project over the last 10 years.
It was due to this involvement and support for the organisation that Tony Kirby (Patrice) and Janelle Orth (Wings) were in attendance at The Kids’ Cancer Project ‘Christmas for a Cure’ luncheon in December 2020.
During the course of this event, Tony and Janelle were moved by a mother’s story about her daughter.
That mother was by Jacqui De Kort, and her daughter, Alana, was diagnosed with Ewings sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer in children, on 4 October 2017.
Within three days she had undergone major surgery to stabilise her spine and remove tumours. On top of having to learn to walk again after the surgery, Alana endured a myriad of challenges throughout her treatment.
On 28 July 2018, less than 10 months after her diagnosis and one week before her 15th Birthday, Jacqui lost her beautiful Alana. Thankfully Alana passed quickly and painlessly, and her family were with her right to the end, to hold and cuddle her and tell her how much they loved and would never forget her.
Their beautiful Pineapple Princess was gone.
At Alana’s celebration of life, her friends and family wrote messages of love on paper decorated with pineapples and put them into a pretty little blue bottle. Together they sealed the bottle and threw it into the ocean off Long Reef Headland in NSW, one of Alana’s favourite places.
Alana’s mother Jacqui, father Paul and brother Jack hoped their little blue bottle would eventually wash-up in a beautiful place, somewhere in the world.
Exactly one year after being told by doctors that there was nothing more they could do for Alana, and four days before the first anniversary of her passing, Jacqui received a call from a family in Agnes Water Queensland to say that they had found Alana’s message-in-a-bottle. It covered in barnacles but completely intact, on the beach directly in front of Agnes Water Surf Club.
Reef 2 Water
This year, Alana’s family will be following the blue bottle’s journey from Long Reef to Agnes Water by JetSki’s to raise awareness about childhood cancer, and to raise much needed funds.
The Reef 2 Water epic adventure will cover almost 1,500KM and will take about 2 weeks.
They’re planning events along the way, including fundraisers, trivia nights, golf days, meet-and-greets with other Cancer families, doctors and researchers, blood and plasma donations to Red Cross Lifeblood, and lots more.
Be a Pineapple
Those who knew Alana knew she loved all things pineapple. Some even called her the Pineapple Princess!
To keep Alana’s memory alive within the Northern Beaches Community, and as an awesome kick-off to their official Blue Bottle fundraising, Alana’s family is attempting to smash the current Guinness World Record for The Largest Human Image of a Fruit.
To do this they need at least 250 people so they can form the shape of a pineapple. The cost to participate is $25 which includes the requisite uniforms of t-shirts and caps, with all profits going to The Kids’ Cancer Project.
Get your crew together and join Tony Kirby, Janelle Orth and Alana’s friends, family and supporters to be part of the big pineapple. The Be a Pineapple event was originally planned for 5 April 2021 but has been postponed due to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions.
To find out more, follow their trip, get involved or even support The Kids’ Cancer Project by becoming part of their big pineapple, head to their website: bluebottle.org.au.