THE little town of Jugiong had made a big contribution to its stores of community’s spirit, showing how hope can spring from tragedy.
With a population 150 spread among a few streets off the Hume Highway between Yass and Gundagai, Jugiong raised nearly $11,000 for the Herd of Hope charity cattle drive.
The Herd of Hope is raising money and awareness for organ donation, as well as support for transplant recipients and donor families, which would be delivered in a similar way to the McGrath Foundation’s breast care nurses.
Local son Lui Polimeni died aged 15 on May 25 in 2016 of a brain haemorrhage, causing a stroke while playing rugby league for the Gundagai Tigers. His family decided to donate his organs.
Event organisers want to take a herd of 40 heifers across the Sydney Harbour Bridge to but so far have been rebuffed by NSW Government, which is concerned about traffic inconvenience.
Fundraising was a grassroots effort, with a social media campaign, a sausage sizzle, raffle tickets explaining the Herd of Hope and offering a free stay at the Motor Inn and strong support from the local business community. A local couple even asked for donations instead of wedding presents.
Money raised will be part of Lui’s legacy and used to establish transplant care nurses for donor families.
Lui’s mum Jenny said the support was a fitting tribute to her son and the anniversary of his passing next week on May 25.
“It’s a wonderful tribute to Lui and his character,” Jenny said.
“People have got behind this because of the beautiful young man he was.”
Plans for the event are on hold, but Jugiong is pushing on with fundraising in the hope permission will, eventually, be granted.
Money raised will be set aside to fund Lui’s old team to travel to the event when it is run, as well as for the transplant care nurses.
Jenny said the Herd of Hope’s support for specialist support is welcome initiative for donor families.
“My family can definitely see the benefits in what Herd of Hope wants to achieve with donor families having that support.”
Jen Milner, owner of Jugiong Motor Inn helped fundraise. She said there was widespread support for the event.
“It was amazing how many people contacted us and said we wanted to be a part of it.
“I have lived here for three years and this community has blown me away. The people are so supportive and generous.
“We moved here from Sydney and my network of friends can’t believe the event isn’t going ahead.”
The Land is print media partner to the event.