“They may be leaving town but they’re not leaving this community,” Tenterfield Preschool director Chloe Daly said of the Johnston family.
Pip, Paul, Jessica, Annabelle and Tommy Johnston are all moving to Old Bonalbo over the Christmas break, with a focus on ‘family time’ in the wake of Tommy’s diagnosis of Niemann-Pick type C disease, which is considered terminal. Paul has been doing the three-hour round trip from the family’s Bonalbo property, which is near his parents, up to Tenterfield on a regular basis. Now the priority is spending more time together.
Tenterfield Preschool usually does some sort of fundraiser each term, but the decision to support the Australian NPC Foundation this time was an easy one. As Tommy is not ill with the disease at the stage, his mum Pip is keen for any proceeds to go towards supporting the foundation to fund vital research.
In search of a theme for the fundraiser, the preschool adopted the foundation’s rainbow logo and allocated a different colour to celebrate each day of this week. Chloe said they were keen to link the colour with healthy eating and come up with four colours, opting to make Thursday ‘rainbow’ day.
Everyone dressed in the colour of the day and there was colour-themed craft, food, painting and other activities. Staff even bravely tackled tie-dying.
By sheer coincidence Thursday was also Tommy’s birthday, and he was on hand to share in his special rainbow cake. His sister Annabelle is a preschool regular, as was Jessica before she graduated to St Joseph’s.
Chloe said she has been floored by the generosity of families, who are donating every day they’re at the preschool. At the time of writing $1110 had been raised, although donations will be accepted until next Friday, December 21.
“We seen nothing like this before,” Chloe said.
“Perhaps because it’s relatable, we see how generous people are.”
“I have no words. I’m just blown away.”
The desire for the Tenterfield community to help this popular family extends beyond the preschool, with the Tenterfield Community Playgroup also hosting a Colours for Tommy Fundraiser at the RSL Pavillion on Friday, to raise money and awareness.
Lainee Taylor from Herbie and Bella is organising an auction at the Tenterfield GOlf Club on January 20, with the auction starting at 3pm. Anyone able to donate goods and services to be auctioned can contact Lainee at the shop or on 0428 361 692.
Anna Hudson and Lucinda Colley through the Tenterfield Campdraft Association are also organising a raffle of great prizes including stud services, discounts on horse breaking, power tools, gift cards and horse first aid box and lots of others items donated by local businesses. Tickets can be purchased at the Tenterfield Veterinary Clinic or Tenterfield CRT, with the winners drawn on December 21 in time for Christmas. (Winners pick their prize, in order.
Tommy’s mum Pip said she’s been just amazed at the way the community has rallied behind the family, as word spreads of the challenge ahead of them.
“It took Paul and I a long time (after the diagnosis) even to talk about it with friends,” she said.
“It’s like a ticking time bomb.”
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