The 28th Charity Cherry Auction at the Perth Markets held this morning saw heated competition between Perth’s highest-profile fresh produce retailers, who bid against one another for the title of Cherry King or Queen in support of Perth Children’s Hospital Foundation.
John Alessandrini – on behalf of his father Tony Alessandrini (Tony Ale) and the Alessandrini family – took out the title of Cherry King by purchasing a box of cherries for a generous $85,000. With a total of 7 boxes of cherries auctioned throughout the morning, the event raised $131,000 for Perth Children’s Hospital Foundation to help build WA’s first children’s hospice. In less than three decades the growers and produce community in WA has donated a staggering $1.5 million to the Foundation.
“Through the success of my father, we are in a fortunate position to be able to contribute in such a way to help improve the physical and mental health of our children,” Mr Alessandrini said.
“This year we are particularly focused on supporting the children’s hospice. I am blessed with four healthy children and three healthy grandchildren. The kids in palliative care don’t deserve the hand they have been dealt – and that motivates my family to contribute.”
Being delivered in partnership with the Child and Adolescent Health Service (CAHS), the WA Children’s Hospice will provide care for children aged from birth to 18 years who have a life-limiting condition and require palliative care.
“Right now, there’s an estimated 2,000 children living with life-limiting illness who could benefit from this service – so we know this home away from home will make a significant difference to those WA families,” said Perth Children’s Hospital Foundation CEO Carrick Robinson.
This humble Christmas tradition kicked off with the special arrival of the Foundation Christmas Ambassador Mahi – whose little sister Ziya passed away a year ago at 20 months old from a rare type of mitochondrial disease. She entered the central trading area in a cherry covered Toyota Hilux thanks to Maddington and Canning Vale Toyota.
Without available hospice facilities, Ziya’s parents made the hard decision for her to come home to live the end of her life. Mother Preeti Raghwani said the hospice would have provided an alternative space for them to have been together as a family throughout Ziya’s journey.
“I see the hospice as a type of Nirvana. A place for people to just be and to live. The whole essence of it is living – it isn’t dying. That was a part of it, but a very small part of it. The bigger picture is living the life that we have and making the most of it,” she said.
Foundation CEO Carrick Robinson said funds raised from the Cherry Auction, enable the Foundation to work closely with those on the frontline of children’s health to transform the lives of WA’s sick children.
“We are extremely grateful to Market West, the Perth Markets Group Limited, the Cherry Growers’ Association of WA and the State’s fresh produce wholesalers and retailers for their continued generous support. The difference that can be made by purchasing a box of cherries is immense,” added Mr Robinson.
The Foundation is the largest funder of the Perth Children’s Hospital and the wider Child and Adolescent Health Service after the government. Their total support in the past 24 years has totalled $83 million, with a further $25 million committed over the next five years. The Foundation is the 5th largest philanthropic foundation in WA.