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The brave faces of the Good Friday Appeal

26 March 2024 Written by VRC

Meet Emily and Finley, two remarkable kids with extraordinary stories. Emily, 10, and Finley, 2, are the Faces of this year's Good Friday Appeal. Their journeys, marked by resilience and courage, shine a light on the vital work of The Royal Children’s Hospital.

Since its inception in 1931, the Good Friday Appeal has been steadfast in its mission to raise funds for The Royal Children’s Hospital, ensuring the provision of top-tier medical care to children not only in Victoria, but beyond.

From preventative healthcare initiatives to critical emergency services and specialised treatments, the hospital serves as a beacon of hope for families.

Thanks to the unwavering support of the Victorian and Australian public, the hospital has been able to continuously expand its services and remain at the forefront of paediatric care.

The funds raised through the Good Friday Appeal have facilitated groundbreaking research, equipped the hospital with state-of-the-art technology, and fostered family centred care programs, all while attracting and retaining exceptional medical talent.

Throughout its 93-year history, the Appeal has amassed an impressive $444 million, a testament to the generosity and compassion of fundraising partners, regional leaders, and community members. The 2023 fundraising campaign marked a new milestone, with an unprecedented $23,061,320 raised, demonstrating the commitment to the hospital's cause.

This funding supports children like Emily and Finley.

Emily enjoys the pony rides at the Flemington Fareground on Howden Australian Guineas Day.

Emily, described by her family as the life of the party, loves nothing more than playing sports and cracking jokes with friends. But behind her smile lies a battle with a rare brain tumour known as a ganglioglioma. Emily is likely going to have this tumour for the rest of her life, but despite these odds, she faces each day with determination, supported by her family and the dedicated team at the hospital. Her treatment involves oncologists, ENT specialists, respiratory doctors, gastroenterologists, and dietitians. Posing significant challenges due to its location within the brainstem, her tumour is not only highly complex to operate on but also incredibly risky, as it governs essential bodily functions.

Finley was born with myelomeningocele, a severe form of spina bifida, and has already undergone several surgeries and tests in his short life. Despite being non-verbal and fed via a nasogastric tube, Finley has an infectious smile that lights up any room, a testament to his resilience and the love of his family. Finley and his parents moved into the Sugar Glider ward at the Royal Children's Hospital while Finley received treatment from seven specialist care teams. 

Rebecca Cowan, Executive Director of the Good Friday Appeal, praises Emily and Finley for their bravery. “We are incredibly proud to call Emily and Finley our 2024 Faces of the Good Friday Appeal. Their strength and resilience is an inspiration and an example of why it is important to rally behind The Royal Children’s Hospital.”

For Emily's parents, Allison and Liam, and Finley's parents, Erin and Jacob, the hospital isn't just a place of treatment – it's a lifeline. They're grateful for the care their children receive and the hope the hospital brings.

“If it weren’t for the amazing team at the Royal Children’s Hospital, Emily would not be here today. We are eternally grateful for the hard-working nurses, doctors and support staff at The Royal Children’s Hospital, who have been her biggest supporters throughout her journey, and the Good Friday Appeal, whose continued support helps kids like Emily to retain some sense of normalcy in their lives,” said Allison.

Connections of Another Wil after winning the Good Friday Appeal Plate at Flemington on March 02. (Reg Ryan/Racing Photos)

The Good Friday Appeal isn't just about fundraising; it's a celebration of hope and resilience. From fun runs to AFL games, there are plenty of ways to get involved and make a difference. Whether it's donating, volunteering, or spreading the word, every contribution counts towards helping kids just like Emily and Finley.

How you can help

  • Donate what you can at: Victoria Racing Club (goodfridayappeal.com.au)
  • Host a fundraiser: register at goodfridayappeal.com.au/fundraise.
  • Attend the Good Friday SuperClash AFL match at Marvel Stadium between North Melbourne and Carlton where $5 from every adult ticket is donated directly to the GFA.
  • Purchase a $10 raffle ticket online with over $315k worth of prizes to be won.
  • Attend the Good Friday Appeal Kids Day Out at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC). Activities include the Teddy Bear Hospital, Woolworths Fresh Fair, carnival rides, sporting zone, market stalls, food trucks, classic cars and entertainment from 10am–5pm.
  • Watch the Channel 7 telethon from 12pm on Good Friday and donate by calling 1300 APPEAL or go online goodfridayappeal.com.au/donate.
  • Donate your containers, with 10 cents from each container donated as part of the Container Deposit Scheme.

The VRC’s support for the Good Friday Appeal:

This year saw the introduction of a collaboration with the Good Friday Appeal on Kennedy Oaks Day, which successfully changed the colour theme of the day to purple and promoted the great work performed by the club’s Flemington neighbour and community partner, The Royal Children’s Hospital Good Friday Appeal. Kennedy Oaks Day started with an uplifting Guard of Honour formed by racing participants for the arrival of patients from The Royal Children’s Hospital in the Flemington Mounting Yard. This collaboration also saw the introduction of a celebrity football match at Flemington on Tuesday 31 October, which is actually a reimagined version of the match that started the Good Friday Appeal 92 years ago. This event featured 20 racing, sporting and media identities coming together to contest a shortened match to raise awareness and funds for the Good Friday Appeal; $7,000 was raised thanks to 3AW generously pledging to donate $500 per goal.

Following on from the successful Oaks Day community partnership aimed at raising awareness, the club continued the partnership across the Flemington Racing Spectacular to raise funds for our neighbours, The Royal Children’s Hospital. Activities have included a raffle at the Long Lunch and on the first two March race days, integration into the Flemington Fareground with donation tins, ticket round up via Ticketmaster, race sponsorship and a visit from Emily, the Face of the 2024 Good Friday Appeal on Howden Australian Guineas Day.

If you would like to contribute to this year’s Good Friday Appeal, please visit the club’s donation page: Victoria Racing Club (goodfridayappeal.com.au)