Pound for pound, dol­lar for dol­lar: city ral­lies for Kara

Dubbo Photo News - - News - By JOHN RYAN

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.

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