By Nick Sinis

LEONGATHA’S Ricky McNaughton is supporting this year’s Daffodil Day Appeal after raising tens of thousands of dollars towards cancer research over the years.

This Daffodil Day (Friday, August 27), Cancer Council is encouraging Victorians to use their ‘Flower Power’ to make a positive impact on the lives of people affected by cancer.

And with an average of 130 people diagnosed with cancer in South Gippsland each year, chances are most people have been touched by cancer in one way or another.

For almost 20 years, Ricky has hosted a Biggest Morning Tea event at Leongatha RSL after his sister Julie was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease – cancer of the lymphatic system.

“It was one thing that I didn’t know or had heard about, so I did some research into it and realised it was a form of cancer,” he told the Sentinel-Times.

“I thought, ‘How can I do something about it?

“I held a small morning tea here at the Leongatha RSL, which I think raised around $150 and had about 20 to 30 people.

“But from there, I got local businesses involved and I went to around 20 shops in Leongatha and asked for a donation to run a raffle and it grew.

“I think the biggest one that I had here was about 180 people.”

From this, Ricky’s Biggest Morning Teas would help raise almost $3000 annually.

“It continued to be really successful, but of course the last couple of years I haven’t ran it because of COVID,” he said.

“But prior to that I thought I’ll do a morning tea and incorporate something else, so I started running a ladies’ night.

“It’s grown from something tiny, to one year I didn’t have enough chairs.

“I get guest speakers in every year too and I always go for a local that has been touched by cancer themselves.

“My sister helps me on the day as my aunty and her sit at the door and sell all the raffle tickets.”

Ricky said he was also personally affected by cancer, after going through chemotherapy several years ago.

“That plugged into why I needed to do more,” he said.

“But my sister has been in remission for years now.

“She had three boys and was diagnosed. She went through all the treatment.

“It was tough time for everyone, but she stayed really positive through the whole thing.

“And not long after, she ended up pregnant and had another boy.”

Ricky is also hoping to kickstart his morning teas again next year if COVID restrictions allow.

In 2020, Cancer Council invested $23.7 million in cancer research.

For more information or to donate to this year’s Daffodil Day, visit daffodilday.com.au or call 1300 65 65 85.