Ashley Mackinnon, of Wilsons Creek, with his children Rebecca Kinsella, 16, and Alec Mackinnon, 10.
Ashley Mackinnon, of Wilsons Creek, with his children Rebecca Kinsella, 16, and Alec Mackinnon, 10. DAVID NIELSEN

Huge response to house competition

WILSONS Creek man Ashley Mackinnon said he had been overwhelmed at the strength of community support after putting up his house as the prize in a competition he hoped would clear massive medical debts and promote a high-tech cancer treatment not available in Australia.

Mr Mackinnon is on the brink of losing his four- bedroom house as he battles repayments on a huge debt racked up while trying to save his wife, Leah Chapman, from cancer.

The couple built up the debts paying for Ms Chapman to travel to the United States to use the high-tech Cyber- Knife radiotherapy system.

The treatments started making inroads into the tumours killing Ms Chapman, but could not save her from organ failure caused by years of chemotherapy treatments.

Mr Mackinnon, now a single dad able only to work part-time, has since been battling to save his house while continuing his campaign with the Federal Government to bring the CyberKnife technology to Australia.

Last month, Mr Mackinnon ran out of options, on the house front at least, and has now launched a competition he hopes will clear his debts and cover moving costs and the rental bond in a new home, while also increasing pressure on the Federal Government to bring a CyberKnife device to Australia.

The competition offers Mr Mackinnon’s $650,000 four- bedroom Wilsons Creek home as the prize in a competition for the best Facebook page promoting the CyberKnife device. Entry into the competition costs $100 and Mr Mackinnon hopes to raise at least $500,000 by the end of May.

If he fails to reach that target he will refund the entries and the finance company – which is charging him 12 per cent interest and will charge him $1000 if he misses a payment – will get his home.

In the week or so since the competition was launched, Mr Mackinnon has already hit the $100,000 mark and said he had been inundated with literally thousands of people wanting to offer support or ask questions about CyberKnife or the competition.

“Logistically it’s a bit difficult,” Mr Mackinnon conceded. “I’ve had a couple of friends helping me reply to emails.”

However, the process had also been very heart-warming.

“I’ve had solicitors ring me to help with (CyberKnife) petitions going to Parliament. ... some people are organising a fun run on the Gold Coast to help,” he said.

“It’s just been an overwhelming response. I’ve had a little kid contact me.

“The little fellow said he couldn’t afford $100, but could pay it at $25 per month. It’s just been amazing.”

The national publicity surrounding the competition has opened more doors. Mr Mackinnon said a real estate agent had told him that publicity now meant he had a good chance of being able to sell the house at an auction, should the competition fall through.

“I have a lot more positive options now than I did a week ago,” Mr Mackinnon said.

• For details on how to enter the competition, and for an update on Mr Mackinnon’s progress, go to www.cyberknifeaustralia.com/fundraisers



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