Pound for pound, dollar for dollar: city rallies for Kara
MILLIONS of dollars are spent in Dubbo each year on all sorts of government programs in an attempt to alleviate social problems in our community. In many ways, Kara Toomey is the opposite of that.
Alongside husband Robert “Gummy” Toomey, she operates the Pound for Pound Boxing Gym in Dubbo and it’s not your typical gym.
For many kids it’s a refuge and raft that empowers disadvantaged and indigenous youth to discover their own worth and realise their infinite potential.
The six-year history of this family-owned business seems like a lifetime to the many young men and women who’ve had their lives enriched, not by what’s in the gym itself, but by the caring personalities behind it.
But the ups of Kara’s life, her achievements when it comes to enriching lives of the city’s most disadvantaged, her children Rome and Cruze, were battered by a 2016 diagnosis of Invasive Ductal Carcinoma Triple Negative, commonly known as breast cancer.
She endured a lumpectomy, radiation and chemotherapy and hoped the worst was over, returning to the Pound for Pound Gym to vigorously run the youth programs she’d designed for the empowerment of others.
However in March this year she was told the cancer had returned, and the official diagnosis was Stage IV Metastatic Breast Cancer – which is about the most negative news she could have received.
After giving so much of their own time and money to improving the lives of individuals in Dubbo, which in turn makes this city a better place for everyone, the community has given back.
Men of League (MOL) organised a fundraising dinner on Saturday evening and one of the organisers Martin Cook said the generosity was about double the previous fundraisers. He’s still sorting out the figures but at the time of going to print he estimated the money raised was around the $140,000 to $150,000 mark.
“It was mind-blowing. It was very sad but also very reassuring that there’s such a great community behind Kara and her family,” Mr Cook said.
“Kara spoke so well, and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house except hers.
“She told how her world collapsed around her when she was diagnosed but she said she’s been getting stronger every day – it was amazing,” he said.
Also on the organising committee was Kara’s sister Erin Hall. “Kara was so brave as she gave such an open and honest account of how she finds the strength, alongside her mother
Jenny who’s also battling breast cancer, to keep up the fight!” she said, adding that it was an “inspirational” moment.
Men of League got involved for a number of reasons. Gummy grew up playing footy for St Johns and then later for the Nyngan Tigers, and their kids have played for St Johns.
“Kara incorporates rugby league in her community programs as well as boxing, so the fundraising’s about keeping her dream going as well,” Mr Cook said.
“She’s desperate to see that her intense mentoring program continues.”
Entertainment for the evening was provided by local favourites, and special guest speaker was Boxing Hall of Fame Legend Johnny Lewis. He wasn’t only involved in boxing, but was head fitness and conditioner at Newtown Jets in the 1970s and 1980s and a trainer for the Kangaroos from 1989 to 1993, including the team’s 1990 tour.
Mr Cook said Kara and Gummy’s work was recognised by the strength of the people who came onto the committee, as well as those who donated to the huge prize pool and spent money on the night.
“Bart Shanks from Eastbake, Mandy Kelly from MPK pub group, Brent Hunter from Picton Brothers Spanline, Josh Large from JLE Electrical, Kim Scott from the Skin Corrective Centre, Cara Gordon from Red Earth Electrical, Kellsey Galea from Hardnox Boxing and Fitness, and Jay Forrester from Wellington Aboriginal Health Service all contributed a huge amount of time, effort and prizes,” Mr Cook said.
“Martin Simmons from Elders did an amazing job as auctioneer extraordinaire and Danny Hayden was fantastic as MC and co-auctioneer.
“The auction items were bought by a huge cross section of people, it wasn’t just one or two people buying the lot.
“It was a night for friends – 404 of them – to come together, giving back to Kara just a fraction of what she’s given to this city,” Mr Cook said.
Kara with husband Robert and family at Saturday night’s successful supporters’ night arranged with help from the Men of League Foundation. PHOTO: DARCEE NIXON.