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Charity dinner success for brain disease families

Charity dinner extraordinary success for brain disease families

On the night of what should have been her wedding day, Leanne Knox helped to raise $32, 800 for people with Huntington’s disease.

The Mt Eden-based 25 year old turned her engagement disappointment into a fundraising dinner at Butterfly Creek, near Auckland Airport, on Saturday night. All proceeds of the night went to Huntington’s Auckland Association and Multiple Sclerosis Waikato, two charities which support people with brain disease.

A surprise donation of $20,000 on the night from the Remuera Lions club saw the total sky rocket. The donation will be used to buy a new car for the family liaison officers, health workers who visit families with the condition.

Mark Dunlop, the Chairman of the Huntington’s Auckland Association, said:

“Funding has been tough for us lately with the global financial crisis, so this donation is an incredible boost.” “A new car means that our dedicated workers can get out all over Auckland and Northland to visit people who need our help. Leanne is really an extraordinary woman to do this for us, and we are just so grateful.”

Ms Knox grew up seeing her grandfather struggling with Huntington’s disease. This incurable progressive genetic brain disease affects muscle co-ordination and leads to cognitive decline and dementia. Each child of an affected parent has a 50% chance of inheriting the condition and Leanne’s mother, auntie and uncle are also affected.

Ms Knox was tested for the gene and is thankfully clear: “While it was sad for my relationship to end, I knew I could turn this around into something special for other people,” she says. “I’m just so grateful for all the donations on the night; I couldn’t believe it when I saw the final amount we raised! It’s just so special that everyone came together to make a difference.”

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Ms Knox organised the dinner in just six weeks, calling in the help of family and friends and the Huntington’s Auckland committee. Guest speakers included neuroscientist Professor Richard Faull and The Baby Factory founder Gordon Lowe.

The star guest on the night was Silver Fern Temepara George who was interviewed by former Northern Force family friend Debra Charteris. George spoke about her Commonwealth Games gold medal successes and the highs and lows of her career in netball. George kindly donated a Silver Fern history book for auction and a highly fought over Ferns dress!

The dinner was a sell out, with all 120 seats sold. Donations flooded in from dinner guests, including sizeable donations from Freemasons Roskill Foundation as well as the Lions Clubs of Cambridge and Tokoroa Host. Items donated to the charity auction included bach holidays, cases of wine, a shirt signed by All Black Tana Umanga and a tour of the Centre for Brain Research at The University of Auckland.

“I’d just like to thank everyone for their help in putting this event together,” says Ms Knox, “I know the funds will make a real difference to my mother, my family and others like us.”


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