Two scouts in the Hunter region have been recognised for their efforts in raising funds for cancer treatment. Jacinta Gomez, 15, has collected $50,000 for John Hunter Children's Hospital while battling leukemia. Cub scout Megan Visser's project "Candles for Cancer" was inspired by the loss of her friend to the disease earlier this year.
Jacinta and Megan were named NSW Scout and NSW Cub of the Year respectively at the Baden Powell Centre in Pennant Hills last month. The NSW Scout youth commissioner Meg Cummins described the pair and other award winners as the "future of the country".
Jacinta and her family began raising money for John Hunter Children Hospital's oncology ward almost as soon as the Morisset High School student was diagnosed in mid-2016. Jacinta is a member of First Byattunga Scout Group in Morisset.
Friends offered to help fund Jacinta's treatment, but the scout and her mother, Kirsten, decided they wanted the money to go to the ward.
Jacinta and her mum, who is a teacher at Wyee Public School, enlisted 10 schools to host annual cupcake sales raising funds for the current renovation of the unit. Cupcakes for Kids with Cancer was born. As of 2018, when Jacinta's treatment became less intense, she has led the project.
"I do presentations at schools and I went to a few scout groups to tell them what the fundraiser was about," she said. "I made a competition with the groups to see which one could raise the most."
Jacinta designed wristbands so students with dietary requirements could also get involved. She now encourages groups to hold cupcake sales in August, to mark the anniversary of the end of her treatment last year.
Claire Burgess, the mother of four-year-old Ena, a patient of the paediatric oncology ward, said it was "amazing for a teenager whose been through the diagnosis to have the foresight and capability to put back into the system".
East Maitland Cub Scout Megan has been selling her homemade candles in memory of a friend who passed away from leukemia in March.
"I wanted to help other people with cancer so that they can survive," the nine-year-old said.
So far, Megan has raised over $1000 for the charity Cure Cancer with the help of her mum Erin. The money will support research into the disease by early-career scientists.
A red heart decorates each of the candles, which Megan said was a special tribute to her friend's favourite colour.
Ms Visser said her daughter had become more confident and outgoing since joining Cubs last year.
"She has overcome many challenges. I credit most of this to her incredible leaders at East Maitland Scout Group, who regularly go above and beyond in their volunteer roles," she said.
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