Whitianga Lions fundraiser for Starship Hospital

23 Nov 2021

Whitianga Lions fundraiser for Starship Hospital

The Whitianga Lions have thrown their weight in behind a national Lions project to equip a paediatric intensive care unit (PICU) at Starship Hospital in Auckland. “Starhip’s intensive care facilities have not been added to for over 12 years and with over 1,100 children each year requiring these facilities, and with only 22 PICUs, the need for expansion is now urgent,” says Mike Brown, coordinator of the team of Whitianga Lions raising funds for the cause. 

Starship is planning a $40 million expansion for 10 new PICUs to which the government is contributing $25 million. Lions Clubs New Zealand is aiming to raise enough funds to pay outright for one PICU, which is estimated to cost $406,700.

Several of the Whitianga Lions have had a grandchild spending time in Starship. “This cause is extremely close to our hearts, in particular due to our collective personal experiences,” says Mike.

Mike’s own granddaughter was diagnosed with a liver condition at four months old and had to undergo a liver transplant at Starship three years ago. “Her aunt, our daughter Lizzie , was her live donor as she was the only one of our immediate family who was compatible and had a liver that was small enough to fit a piece of it into a four-month old baby,” Mike says. “My granddaughter has an incredible story of survival which was only possible with her aunt’s courage in donating one quarter of her liver and the expertise of Starship’s skilled healthcare specialists and the PICU that she spent days in during her recovery. Having a daughter and granddaughter on the operating table for six and hours respectively was a very tough time for our family.

“Our fundraising team know we need to do what we can to help the national Lions reach their fundraising goal.”

The Whitianga Lions’ goal is to contribute at least $30,000 towards the Lions Clubs New Zealand target. Nationally, more than $217,000 has already been raised. 

The efforts of the Whitianga Lions’ fundraising team stand at more than $11,000. The funds were raised purely through donations made by clients of Mercury Bay Pharmacy in Whitianga when they paid for their purchases. “We started collecting at Mercury Bay Pharmacy at the same time as this year’s Covid-19 lockdown,” Mike says. “I would really like to thank the community, everyone has been so supportive. Some people have donated three or four times already. Also a massive thank you to Mercury Bay Pharmacy and the staff working there, they have really pushed our fundraiser.”

Everyone making a donation goes into a monthly draw to win a $100 gift card donated by Mercury Bay Pharmacy. No minimum amount is required to enter in the draw, all donations count. “We’ll continue with the Mercury bay Pharmacy collection until the end of February next year,” Mike says. “The last gift card winner will be drawn at a teddy bears’ picnic we plan to hold on New Zealand Children’s Day, Sunday, 6 March, at the Whitianga Bike Park.

“We’ll also be running a raffle during the summer holiday period with 10 great prizes to be won, including flights with Air Auckland, high end cosmetics and a local accommodation package. The raffle winners will also be drawn at the teddy bears’ picnic.”

The teddy bear’s picnic will be a day dedicated to children 12 years and younger having fun with games, face painting and live music. All are welcome and families can bring their own picnic although there will be food for sale.

“Our thanks go to the owners of and the ladies attending classes at Tis the Season in Whitianga who are making clothes for teddy the bears which will be given away as prizes at the picnic,” Mike says. “Also thank you to all the Lions members and the Mercury Bay Quilting club who are providing teddy bear prizes for the day.

Tickets for adults cost $5 each. Children 12 years and younger, and teddy bears can enter for free. “The picnic will be operating under the government rules applicable at the time to keep everyone safe with regards to Covid-19,” Mike says.

Anyone keen to help with the picnic, including entertainers interested in performing, can email Mike at whitibrown4@gmail.com

Direct donations to the cause are also accepted into the Whitianga Lions’ bank account with Kiwibank, account number 38-9020-0534879-05. Please include your name in the reference section and email Mike to request a tax receipt. 

The Informer is interested in publishing the stories of Mercury Bay residents who have been touched by the care their children and grandchildren have received at Starship Hospital. By sharing our own community’s experiences, we can raise awareness of the cause and enable people to reach out to and support each other.

Pictured: The Whitianga Lions team raising funds for a new paediatric intensive care unit at Starship Hospital in Auckland. From left to right: Mike Brown, Jeanette Russell, Steve Tutty, Robert Denning-Kemp and Jacqui Asplin (representing Mercury Bay Pharmacy).