For Kai and Jean

El­len­brook residents dug deep to raise $22,000 for can­cer re­search at a char­ity ball on Fri­day in hon­our of three-year-old Ave­ley boy Kai Nell and Jean Brown, who both lost their lives to can­cer.

The Advocate (Perth) - - FRONT PAGE - Lisa Thomas

EL­LEN­BROOK residents have cel­e­brated the lives of two much-loved peo­ple and have raised $22,000 for can­cer re­search at the in­au­gu­ral Mrs Brown’s Ball at The Vines Re­sort.

The char­ity ball, which was or­gan­ised by fundrais­ing group The Sparkly Um­brella and held on Fri­day, cel­e­brated lo­cal res­i­dent Tracey Maguire’s mother, Mrs Brown, who died of can­cer on St Pa­tricks Day last year.

The event also hon­oured three-year-old Ave­ley boy, Kai Nell, who stole the hearts of many around WA dur­ing his two-year bat­tle with a rare form of leukaemia, two bone mar­row trans­plants and a wide­spread search for donors.

Mrs Maguire, a co-founder of The Sparkly Um­brella, said af­ter hear­ing that Kai had died in Jan­uary and fol­low­ing his jour­ney with treat­ment and the search for a donor on so­cial me­dia, she knew that she wanted to do some­thing in his mem­ory.

She said the ball, which would be held an­nu­ally, would be held lo­cally, sup­ported by lo­cals and would hon­our lo­cals who had died of can­cer or sur­vived the dis­ease.

“My mummy would be so proud of this event and she would love that there was one big party in her hon­our, and she would love that she was shar­ing it with Kai,” she said.

“It’s very ex­cit­ing to be able to hon­our them and share who they were and what made them spe­cial, while mak­ing a dif­fer­ence.”

Kai’s par­ents, Richard and Kara Nell, were guests of hon­our at the event.

Mrs Nell said one of the hard­est things about Kai’s death was not know­ing who would look af­ter him.

“When Kai died my big­gest worry for him was not know­ing who would be there watch­ing out for him be­cause I didn’t re­ally know any­one who had passed,” she said.

“When I met Tracey and we talked about her mum and saw a pic­ture of her, I knew that she was with him and I felt com­fort that they were to­gether.”

Mr Nell said the sup­port from the com­mu­nity dur­ing Kai’s treat­ment and af­ter his pass­ing had been over­whelm­ing. “We got so much sup­port from our so­cial me­dia page and there are many other fam­i­lies who don’t get that and that’s what we tried to re­flect,” he said.

“It’s ob­vi­ously about Kai, but it’s also big­ger than him – it’s about sav­ing kids who are still fight­ing.”

He said Kai’s fol­low­ers had amazed him and were help­ing cre­ate a legacy in his hon­our.

“The things we’ve en­joyed see­ing from the so­cial me­dia page is that peo­ple have started to give blood and do­nate bone mar­row, but it’s also the peo­ple who say that their hus­bands have come home ear­lier from work to spend time with their kids be­cause of Kai,” he said.

“And a lit­tle boy who had a birth­day and in­stead of asking for presents asked peo­ple to do­nate money to can­cer re­search be­cause of Kai.

“It just has to mean some­thing that he’s gone.”

Mrs Nell said Kai was a cheeky boy with a lot of con­fi­dence and had no doubt he was at the ball danc­ing in his “green shoes”.

“He went out into the world in those 11½ months in re­mis­sion and he ruled the world,” she said. “He would have been up on stage and danc­ing.”

Ev­ery cent raised from the event will go to Can­cer Coun­cil WA and directed to a chil­dren’s can­cer re­search pro­gram.

The Sparkly Um­brella com­mit­tee mem­ber Sharron Attwood said the night was a huge suc­cess and gen­er­ated so much sup­port from the lo­cal com­mu­nity.

“Mrs Brown’s Ball was a night full of fun, laugh­ter, re­mem­brance and hope,” she said.

“When the fi­nal tally raised on the night was an­nounced as a sneak over $22,000 the crowd erupted into ap­plause – ex­cited at be­ing a part of some­thing we all found mean­ing in. We have al­ready had re­quests for tables at next year’s ball – and we will def­i­nitely be back!”

Pic­ture: David Baylis­mu­ni­ d466685

Kara and Richard Nell, of Ave­ley.

Pic­ture: David Baylis d466685

Back left to right: Kelli Fran­cis and Tracey Maguire. Seated from the left: Sharron Attwood, Richard and Kara Nell and Colin Maguire.

Richard Nell, Tracey Maguire and Kara Nell.

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