May Cameron Wins Prestigious Fundraising Award

Back to blog5 months ago by Renee
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Gretel Kileen with May Cameron.
 
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For more than 46 years May Cameron has been a steadfast sight around Leeton as she helped raise close to $1million for Cerebral Palsy Alliance.

At the young age of 81, she was recently awarded the prestigious State and National “Volunteer of the Year” awards handed out by the Fundraising Institute of Australia (FIA).

May’s connection with the Cerebral Palsy Alliance came about through a chance meeting with Miss Australia Contestant Pina Artese.

“I was manager of a department store at the time,” May recalled, “and this lovely young lady came in and asked for volunteers for her committee.” May soon found herself secretary of the re-formed Leeton Spastic Council, with no committee experience or any real idea about what a secretary’s duties might entail. “You learn pretty quick though,” May said, fondly recalling the task of setting up her earliest fundraising activities.

Her fundraising has, for the most part, been conducted as a married woman working full time in Leeton. When asked about how she has kept her enthusiasm up for so many years, May spoke about the people of Leeton and the surrounding area. “I like standing outside the shops selling raffle tickets. People who have been away from the area for years come up to you and say, ‘You’re May Cameron, aren’t you?’. It’s great meeting people.”

May’s dizzying round of activities includes co-ordinating and recruiting volunteers, organising events and street stalls, dinners, morning teas, advocating for Cerebral Palsy awareness and getting “out there in the street” to sell raffle tickets at shopping centres. She puts this down to the Australian small town culture of lending a hand and getting involved in the community. From the local businesses and clubs to the people who donate highly desirable prizes for the raffles, May is full of praise for the people of Leeton and the surrounding area, saying that the credit for the money raised really belongs to them. “I’m just one of the slave drivers,” she laughingly says.

May says she particularly enjoys the sense of mobilisation of the community. Leeton is about 80km from Wagga, and volunteers and funds can come from anywhere in this area. “When people realise that their money’s going to stay around the town, to help the Cerebral Palsy Alliance in Wagga, they’re even more happy to help.” May says one of the great pleasures of her activities has been seeing local shops, businesses, service clubs and individuals all getting involved and doing their bit to help.

May fondly recalls Charity Bowls Nights that she helped organise, as well as stories about the generosity of the locals when it came to providing resources for her street stalls and bake sales. Following her being on a segment with a Leeton local radio station, a farmer instantly donated several large sacks of carrots for sale. When summing up her charity fundraising career, May says, “Boy, we had a lot of fun.”

But for May, the heart of her fundraising journey are the people in her community living with cerebral palsy. While she didn’t directly know anyone with cerebral palsy, it wasn’t long until she met one of the families who were the recipients of the generous donations. “When I was asked if I’d like to meet her I immediately said all right, and we went out to the car to say hello to this lovely mother and daughter,” May recalls.

“This lovely little girl could only move her head, she couldn’t talk, but she smiled at me when her mother introduced her to me. I have never forgotten that, not in my entire life.”

May became dedicated to Cerebral Palsy Alliance’s mission of building futures for people with cerebral palsy.

Cerebral Palsy Alliance Volunteer and Corporate Engagement Manager Peter Horsley said that May was an important thread in the fabric of the organisation and the community. “On behalf of the organisation I’d like to thank May for all her dedication and hard work raising funds and being a positive representation of Cerebral Palsy Alliance. It’s thanks to her long hours of baking cakes and selling raffle tickets that we have been able to fund expensive yet life-changing equipment like wheelchairs, adapted bike, Hart Walkers and communication devices,” Peter said.

Today, May continues as Treasurer to the re-formed council, having been Secretary and President in the past. She is an unwavering member, having remained consistently involved ever since that first day in 1971. She worries about the future of regional fundraising and organisation, saying that she feels there will be nobody to replace her when she finally steps aside. “It’s different these days,” she says. “I often do wonder what will happen when I stop. We’ve got some lovely people, but we need more young people involved.”

If you want to join the team, check out our volunteer section on the webpage