Gill and Michael O’Connor could hardly wipe the smiles from their faces after Saturday night.
The event had been a gamble but some 254 people had thoroughly enjoyed the inaugural Shakin’ Cocktail Party at the Goulburn Workers Club.
The O’Connors organised the event to raise money for a specialist neurological/Parkinson’s Disease nurse. Mr O’Connor suffers the disease and the couple cooordinate the Goulburn Support Group, founded in 2006.
Mrs O’Connor said the night raised over $10,000 from raffle tickets and item sales. But the highlight was a $60,000 donation over three years from the Workers Club.
“We were just blown away by that...The generosity of everyone was amazing and the atmosphere was great,” she said.
The Spooky Men’s Chorale performed twice on the night and Support Group members threw open their homes to accommodate the singers and their families. The Chorale donated half the proceeds from their item sales to the cause.
The group’s goal is to raise $150,000 to appoint a nurse for just one year, but it is also applying for grants. Parkinsons NSW has earmarked Goulburn as one of five centres to receive a nurse in the next five years. Mrs O’Connor said the nurses were vital for sufferers and carers as they could liaise with medical personnel and even write prescriptions and referrals to specialists such as speech pathologists.
“We’ve been told by the president of Parkinson’s NSW that Goulburn would have a nurse by 2020 but the more we fundraise and push, the closer we’ll be,” she said.
Mrs O’Connor told The Post that a great deal of Parkinson’s Disease went undiagnosed. Erroneously, many thought it was an “old person’s” condition.
Her husband was 48 when he was diagnosed and had to give up work.
“It was a very traumatic time and we had two school aged children,” she said.
But with support, they have endured for 16 years and poured their energy into helping others. Typically the support group attracts 16 to 18 members each meeting to exchange experiences and occasionally hear from guest speakers.
The Support Group meets on the second Thursday of each month at 10.30am the Goulburn Workers Club. For more information contact Mrs O’Connor on 4822 6732 or 0418 168 558.