Former Eden Marine High School student Neil Willis was in the spotlight this week with his daughter Jessie after they presented a cheque for $125,000 to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) in Canberra.
Neil is now a fire fighter in Canberra and the money raised from sales of a raunchy calendar depicting buff firies, including Peter Freeman whose mum Kath Whiter lives at Towamba, was presented during the weekend’s Canberra Raiders football match.
Three-year-old Jessie made the presentation and it was her plight that prompted the fundraiser for the unit. Jessie spent 104 days in the unit after she was born three months premature, doctors saving her life “more than a dozen times” as she struggled for survival.
“She had every complication that a premature baby can have but she’s perfect now, she doesn’t have any problems – she is our miracle,” Neil said.
Neil’s proud mum, Jenny, contributed to the cause, selling the calendars around Eden to raise $350.
“It’s just fabulous that Jessie’s plight has inspired the fundraiser,” she said. “It’s an extremely worthwhile charity – NICU does such important work.”
It was Peter who helped organise the calendar and all the work that went into organising the photography and sponsorship, although if you missed out on this year’s calendar, it could be a long wait for the next one. A spokesman for the firies said they’ll be focussing on a different method to continue to support the NICU that treated nearly 700 babies last year.