By Pam Kiriakidis
‘Once a fighter, always a fighter’ is the well-deserved description of Kilmore resident and philanthropist Bev Carman, who continues to fundraise for the Northern Health Foundation after 16 years.
On Sunday, Ms Carman is once again hosting an annual race day at Kilmore Trackside to purchase lifesaving equipment and charity for the Northern Hospital.
This year, her goal is to purchase at least two chemotherapy chairs for the Northern Health Foundation charity.
Ms Carman began fundraising after realising what cancer patients faced when her daughter had to travel into the city for cancer treatment many years ago.
“You had to go on a waiting list to Peter McCallum or to the Austin Hospital, and I think it took 70 days to get through the Austin. Even though that’s not a lot further on the Northern, when you live in Kilmore – it’s a lot further,” she said.
Ms Carman began writing letters, meeting with former Member for McEwen Fran Bailey and campaigning the Federal Government.
“Fran helped me along the way, pestering, writing letters [to] John Howard, and [when] there was election on and he came around to give the Wallan Golf Club a new green, while he was there, he said ‘I’d like to announce something else’ and he gave me a $200,000 cheque,” Ms Carman said.
Nine months after receiving the grant, Ms Carman watched the doors open for a new chemotherapy hub at the Northern Hospital where patients were able to consult with their usual doctors.
“The opening was really for the doctors, directors, some of my friends, my daughter and Fran Bailey – all the people that got it up and running – so that was a very nice night,” she said.
“It’s a wonderful thing because if you’ve had your treatment in one hospital, it’s nice to stay there because you’ve gotten used to the doctors and the whole atmosphere of the place.”
Before organising race day functions, Ms Carman ran other events to fundraise, including an annual charity golf day and Oaks Day function, raising money for crucial items for patients to be purchased.
“Every year that I get this money, it doesn’t just go into the funding, I buy something they need,” Ms Carman said.
“The beginning I did just to get the chemotherapy ward but now it’s to always giving them things they need.”
Ms Carman has raised close to $1 million in total and, in return, has received love from the patients and workers at the hospital.
“I had to unveil a plaque, and I looked at one lady and she just pointed to my picture on the wall and touched my heart and that was the end of me,” she said.
Ms Carman now makes the most of the events she hosts through socialising with people she has met during years of organising functions and activities.
“I love it because I do it for the enjoyment of doing it, it’s my social life,” she said.
“It’s given me a social life because I am a patron. You get invited to everything but if the hospital itself is having a big function, I’ll be invited.”
Ms Carman plans to keep active in her fundraising events, and to expand her knowledge, as she said the events had made her more aware of what happens behind the scenes at the hospital.
“Until you get right into it, you have no idea what’s behind everything,” she said.
“Hopefully I can do it till I’m 80, and if I’m still okay I will keep going but it is time for someone younger to take over.”
Northern Health Foundation Charity Race Day is at Kilmore Trackside on Sunday.
To purchase tickets, people can visit bit.ly/3T1wQ2E.