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Captains Do It Again For Relay

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Carl Rackemann shares a joke with Michael Hancock during his on-stage interview

July 29, 2019

Fundraising for the South Burnett Relay For Life committee’s 2019 campaign received a massive kick-along on Saturday night with the annual Dinner With The Captains in Kingaroy.

The total amount raised is still being calculated, but organising committee spokesman Carl Rackemann said the live and silent auctions by themselves raised about $19,000.

The largest amount bid was just over $3000 for the Brisbane Broncos “ultimate experience”, donated by the Broncos.

Adding to the fundraising were the tickets bought by the almost 400 people packed into the hall and the proceeds of a big multi-draw raffle with prizes donated by local businesses.

Carl said the South Burnett region raises an average of $5-$6 per head every year for Cancer Council Queensland compared with the national average of about $1.

“I don’t know how we do it but we keep on doing it!” Carl said.

The fundraising was the serious part of the evening but the audience also enjoyed a three-course meal and plenty of inspiration (and laughs) from the three guest speakers.

Former Kangaroo, Maroon and State of Origin winger Michael Hancock was called off the bench as a last-minute replacement for Greg Inglis but no one in the audience seemed to mind – even when Michael admitted he had never captained anything (even Under 12s).

There were some surprises in Michael’s talk … including the fact he could well have ended up as a Blue.  And the fear he felt when he was crunched by NZ players early in his career (he was still a teenager when he was selected to play for Australia in the NZ Test series).

“It took a long time to get over the fear factor and get back into the game,” he said.

However, his “never give up attitude” led to five premierships with the Broncos plus 20 games each for Queensland and Australia.

The second guest speaker was solo around-the-world sailor and 2011 Young Australian of the Year Jessica Watson who circumnavigated the globe in 210 days – at the age of 16.

Jessica started thinking about the idea when she was just 11 and although her parents didn’t say no straight away they thought she would get over it.

“But over the next few years I became absolutely obsessed,” she said.

Jessica spoke about the embarrassment of “running into” a 63,000 tonne container ship during a training run: “I still have nightmares about hitting ships!”.

During her solo, unassisted circumnavigation, her yacht, “Ella’s Pink Lady”, was upturned multiple times by massive waves.

She filled in her time with books, music, blogging – and when she was really bored, schoolwork!

Jessica also admitted she had to rely on her pre-packed food: during the whole trip she only caught one fish.

Michael and Jessica were interviewed on stage by compere Carl Rackemann, but the third guest for the night, Greg “Fat Cat” Ritchie, took to the podium by himself.

The former Australian Test batsman – and Queensland captain – has had a long media and speaking career after retiring from the crease, including a regular spot for years on The Footy Show.

He shared the story about how his character “Mahatma Cote” came into existence (blame fellow cricketer, David Hookes).

Greg shared some hilarious but unrepeatable stories about overseas tours – particularly to the West Indies – but said the greatest day of his life had been when he got that first phone call to say he had been selected to represent Australia.

* * *

This is what it’s really all about … the two 2019 Face Of Relay representatives are cancer survivors Eric and Carla Cross. Eric, 79, was diagnosed with prostate cancer last year while Carla, 70, has had four bouts of breast cancer. Their message? Early diagnosis. “I am alive today because it was picked up early every time,” said Carla.

The major sponsor for the Dinner With The Captains evening was the Kingaroy Telstra Store.

Store manager Jason Koy said he couldn’t think of a better way to make a difference in the community than to support Cancer Council Queensland.

CCQ General Manager (Advocacy) James Farrell said almost 28,000 people would be diagnosed with cancer in Queensland this year.

In the south-west Queensland region – which includes the South Burnett – there would be more than 2000 cases, ie. more than 40 a week.

As well as funding research, CCQ also supports cancer patients and their families.

“Almost 8000 Queenslanders reached out for help to the Cancer Council last year,” James said.

He said they relied on community support: “We don’t receive any government funding.”

South Burnett Relay For Life committee chair Rowena Dionysius said the group was hoping to raise $100,000 again this year for CCQ from the Relay and associated activities.

“Without your help we can’t get the money we need for research … research, research and more research,” she said.

Footnote: Congratulations to the seven members of the Captains Dinner organising committee: Simon Neal, Chantal Harth, Jenny Underwood, Robyn Broomhall, Frances Wyeth, and Carl and Louise Rackemann.

Greg “Fat Cat” Ritchie lays down the law at the podium … the celebrity speaker has had a long career in the media (and media spotlight) since he retired from playing first class cricket

Carl interviews Jessica Watson OAM … Jessica won over the hearts of the audience and received a standing ovation at the end of her segment

Former boxer Arthur “Bullet” Bradley with compere Carl Rackemann and guest speaker Michael Hancock

Wakka Wakka elder and former Face of Relay Uncle Eric Law did the Welcome To Country … he is pictured with guest speaker Greg Ritchie, Cancer Council Queensland reps Pandora Bevan and James Farrell, and South Burnett Relay For Life chairperson Rowena Dionysius

Jessica Watson with Captains Dinner committee member Louise Rackemann

Dennis Cotter with a bottle of his Ramu rum which featured in the silent auction … Dennis also handled the bidding for the main auction

Jimmy Stephen and Jacksy James from Accents Catering made sure the three-course dinner was a meal to remember

Some of the Relay For Life “pirates” who were selling raffle and dinner tickets during the evening

The team from Wooroolin Lions were kept busy behind the bar

TAFE teacher Jason Ford with some of the team of students who were busy plating up and working hard in the kitchen … … Domino’s Kingaroy donated pizzas to make sure all the kitchen workers didn’t miss out on enjoying a meal, too

TAFE “front of house” teacher Sandra Perry with the team serving the tables

Accents Catering’s Donna Beale, Edna Bastable and Edith Pederson were also working hard to keep things running smoothly

Nathan Evans, from Kingaroy, with Cr Danita Potter

South Burnett mayor Keith Campbell and his wife Marion

Three old friends from Wondai P-10 caught up at the Captains Dinner … Rosie Schmidt, Wayne Muller and Margaret Cobbo

Kingaroy Town Hall was packed with 39 tables of keen diners for the occasion


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