NATION?S FINEST: Cathy Mooney from South Lismore has received an Order of Australia Medal for her work raising money to battle
NATION?S FINEST: Cathy Mooney from South Lismore has received an Order of Australia Medal for her work raising money to battle

Lismore woman awarded OAM

By Luke Prendergast

CATHY Mooney has received the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in the Queen's Birthday Honours.

But as far as she is concerned it is one she shares with her entire family, in particular her father Eric, who died of leukaemia nearly nine years ago.

Eric's illness and Cathy's determination to call him on his birthday ultimately led to the nationwide Shave for a Cure campaign, which to date has raised over $55 million for the Leukaemia Foundation.

"There was no cordless phone in the hospital," she explained yesterday.

"I thought, 'we've got to raise some money and get a blasted phone'. It was me being frustrated that I couldn't ring my dad for his birthday."

Having shaved their father's head to spare him from it falling out during his chemotherapy, Cathy's brother told her about fundraisers like Crop-a-Cop.

"I sort of got my knickers in a knot and said 'let's have our own', so we did," she said.

Nearly 60 members of Cath's extended family and friends shaved their heads, raising $80,000 in sponsorship.

"I contacted the Guinness Book of Records and found out we were 12 short of the record, so I contacted The Northern Star and got their support and we had more than 200 heads shaved at Lismore Square," Cathy said.

"My father's doctor, Dr James Morton, said if a place like Lismore could do that, what can a nation do."

And that's how The World's Greatest Shave was born.

In 1999 the event went nationwide and was adopted by the Foundation as its signature fundraising event.

"We couldn't get up to see Dad because one of the kids had chickenpox, so we got up on the helipad opposite his window at the Brisbane Hospital. Mum called him on the mobile and told him to look out the window and we took our hats off and held up a sign saying we'd raised $80,000," Cathy said. "Mum said he just shook his head and cried."

To date, Cathy and her family have raised more than $250,000. Some of the $55 million total has returned to the local community through a scheme which provides a car to transport leukaemia patients to Brisbane or the Gold Coast, and a fulltime patient support officer.



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