Why I love fundraising
We’re lucky at CLDF to have so many supporters who keep coming up with fantastic fundraising ideas. This year Lisa, whose six year old daughter Sophie has biliary atresia, has organised a Big Yellow Friday party and persuaded two colleagues to cycle from Land’s End to John O’ Groats! Here she explains why the benefits extend far beyond the funds raised.
Sophie was very positive about the idea of a Big Yellow party. She is a little too young to remember our last big fundraiser, but she knows about her liver disease and how it can affect her and the effect it has on other children. I explained to her that organising the party meant that children at her school would learn about her condition and she shrugged her shoulders and said that was fine.
After the initial shock of Sophie’s diagnosis had subsided, it became my priority that she not live in fear of it or the future implications. My husband and I have tried to ensure we are all very matter of fact about the condition and we talk about liver transplant as casually as some people talk tooth extraction! Sophie can appear quite casual when she talks about her liver condition and I hope that’s a reflection of her acceptance of it. I think as the years roll by and Sophie becomes a (big gulp) teenager she will rely on CLDF to help her navigate the choppy waters of adolescence and that’s one of the many reasons I am so keen to fundraise for you.
Lots of Sophie’s school friends came to the Big Yellow Party. There was also a poster advertising the event on Sophie’s classroom door. Because of the type of community we live in, Sophie’s friends are growing up with her liver condition too so they don’t tend to have too many questions. Parents have lots of questions though and I am always happy to address those. We have always been very open about it and encouraged Sophie to be the same. To see her friends supporting her was absolutely awesome.
I contacted our local radio station, BBC Essex, about the party and they sent two presenters round to interview us! Sophie is quite a shy little girl but the radio presenters were fantastic with her, putting her at ease and showing her round their car with all the broadcasting gadgets. By the time it came to speaking, she was relaxed enough to share her “Jelly on the Belly” motto. She really enjoyed the experience. My aim when I approach the press isn’t just to publicise one event, it is also to raise awareness of childhood liver disease, CLDF and organ donation.
It wasn’t only Sophie who benefitted from the’ ripple’ effects of the party. It also had an impact on her brother, Ethan. Ethan struggles with anxiety and is quite a serious little boy at times. Much of his anxiety is believed to stem from the very chaotic and distressing first few months of Sophie’s life when he was just two. Richard and I have always tried to ensure he is not left out during our fundraising efforts and this one was particularly good for him as it took place at his football club. We were so proud of him when he organised a “Beat the Goalie” competition at the party and then stood in front of a roomful of guests to present the prizes!
There’s no doubt that the party was hard work and time consuming but absolutely a positive experience. I remind Sophie that she has these opportunities and experiences because of her condition. To see so many friends coming together to support Sophie was incredible. The moment she met Eve and Bonnie, two other little girls who had also had a liver transplant, it gave me goose bumps. To have seen a photograph like the one I took of them, on the day when Sophie was first diagnosed would have given me so much hope. These strong, sassy girls have biliary atresia, it definitely does not have them!