Home » Big bids for “Little” kids at cancer research gala

Big bids for “Little” kids at cancer research gala

Daniel Bouwmeester    October 7, 2022    4 min read   

September was Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, and to mark the occasion, founders of a new cancer research charity held a very special fundraising gala at the Brookwater Golf & Country Club on Saturday, September 3.

Attendees from near and far paid heartwarming tribute to Richie “Little” Walsh, the son of Karl and Lisa Walsh, whose fight against cancer was the inspiration for their newly formed charity Richie’s Rainbow Foundation.

Their mission is to help fund research into rare childhood cancers, especially sarcomas, and to support families across Australia.

Dr Wayne Nicholls, director of oncology services at Children’s Health Queensland, with Richie’s parents Karl and Lisa Walsh. Images: Richie’s Rainbow Foundation.

Previously misdiagnosed with pneumonia, in March 2020, at age 7, Richie was diagnosed with Embryonal Rhabdomyosarcoma, an aggressive soft-tissue sarcoma that grows malignant tumours in the connective tissue of skeletal muscle, usually in children.

This type of cancer currently has very low survival rates and is hard to accurately diagnose because of its enigmatic genetic markers and tumour growth.

Richie – or “Little”, as he liked to be called – began a full year of intense chemotherapy, followed by eight weeks of radiotherapy. Sadly, despite all the treatment, he never went into remission, and passed away peacefully and surrounded by family on September 26, 2021, at just 9 years of age.

“Richie’s Rainbow Foundation is so thankful for all the support that they received at their first Gala dinner, which was attended by a number of local businesses in the area,” Karl said.

“The event raised over $46,000, with some of the funds being raised from a live auction that took place on the night.”

The occasion included a three-course meal with four-hour drinks, and the hosts raffled off some massive prizes, including signed merchandise, high-end clothing, holidays, and a special five-night charter package on the catamaran ‘Top Buoy’, worth over $10,000, courtesy of Whitsunday Rent-A-Yacht.

Karl and Lisa praised the hard work of the foundation’s directors, calling the night “truly magical”.

“The event was a great success and we are already planning next year\’s gala dinner,” Karl said.

“It means so much to us as a family, and a newly formed charity to know that people really want to hope and support us, in funding vital research into treating childhood cancer, especially challenging cancers such as sarcomas, which remain extremely challenging to treat and cure.

“We are also committed to ensuring children diagnosed with cancer in Queensland have access to their very own iPad, and we have given out 37 iPads to date. We will continue to lobby MPs to prioritise funding for childhood cancer which presently only receives 3 per cent of government funding,” he explained.

“As a newly formed charity we need as much exposure as possible.”

The Walsh family, including children Melissa, Luke, and Layla, emigrated from the UK to Australia in 2016, applying for visas last year to become permanent residents.

While their two-year wait for eligibility for government healthcare had made affording medical bills difficult, a GoFundMe page set up on their behalf has raised over $300,000 in the wake of generous media coverage.

To hear the words “your child has cancer” is something Karl and Lisa will never forget, and they vowed to forever honour the strength, courage, and bravery of their “warrior son”.

In August, just four months after being founded, Richie\’s Rainbow pledged a minimum of $100,000 to help fund the work of Doctors Fernando Souza-Fonseca-Guimaraes and Gustavo Rodrigues Rossi, who are conducting promising new research in the use of NK cell therapy to treat Rhabdomyosarcoma.

“We are in this for the long run to find a cure for the cancer that took away our boy. Please support a charity that is making a huge difference,” Karl said.

“This is all for you, beautiful boy.”

For enquiries and further contact information, visit richiesrainbow.org.au.

To donate blood, visit the Australian Red Cross website at www.lifeblood.com.au.

Daniel Bouwmeester

Daniel was born in a mining town in New South Wales to Dutch and Welsh immigrants, before relocating to Logan City, where he attended Canterbury College for twelve years. He pursued his passion for music by completing a first-class honours degree at the University of Queensland (UQ), and later signed with a local record label. He has travelled the world from a young age, including a student exchange in rural France, a job working the ski lifts in Colorado, and visits to the islands of the South Pacific. After a six-year career in market research, Daniel returned to UQ to complete a Bachelor of Journalism and Arts dual degree, majoring in political science. His varied experiences at home and abroad have contributed to a passion for spreading good news while defending the truth buried inside complex societal paradigms.