Survivor puts best, odd foot forward

By Jessica McAllen

Cancer volunteer urges public to wear odd footwear on Friday in support of charity helping sick children.

Neerali Parbhu survived cancer as a child and now helps others as a Camp Quality volunteer. Photo / Richard Robinson
Neerali Parbhu survived cancer as a child and now helps others as a Camp Quality volunteer. Photo / Richard Robinson

Shoes are an important part of any outfit but on Friday Neerali Parbhu will be making a deliberate fashion faux-pas to help children with cancer.

The 21-year-old will be wearing odd shoes to raise awareness and funds for Camp Quality, an annual week-long outing for kids who spend most of their time in hospital.

The free camp provides an opportunity to experience the fun activities and friendships that are often denied them during treatment.

Ms Parbhu has been a volunteer at Camp Quality for more than two years and attended it until the age of 16.

She was diagnosed with cancer at 14 months old but has since overcome the disease and is studying for a postgraduate degree in design.

The camps aim to boost cancer sufferers through a busy week of activities such as camping, cooking, go-karting and a themed week-ending disco, and visits to Rainbow's End and other attractions.

Volunteers such as Ms Parbhu accompany each child.

Some years there are more than 100 children and when this number is matched by companions and staff it is difficult for the self-funded charity to cover the costs.

Ms Parbhu said she always looked forward to the camp when she was a child.

"These kids don't realise how strong they are but they are such great role models to everyone around them.

"They see the positive in everything and it is important for them not to lose that attitude."

Jon Green is the brains behind "odd shoe day", which he started two years ago as a way to raise awareness about the camp.

The independent trustee of Camp Quality says other fundraising icons such as red noses or bandannas have to be made and sold and this restricts the amount of people taking part.

"But with odd shoes, everyone has a pair in their cupboard. It doesn't cost anything to take part in the day and anyone can do it."

On Friday people at schools, businesses and elsewhere in the community are being encouraged to wear odd shoes and to make a gold coin donation to Camp Quality.

Quality time

*The first NZ Camp Quality was held in West Auckland in January 1985.
*Provides annual summer camps and year-round support for children (age 5-16) with cancer and their families.
*Free service funded by charitable donations.
*Camps cost about $600,000.

- NZ Herald

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