Rugby match supports children in need

By Erika Venter

The FBT Toko Rugby players are as tough as you can get, and will give no leeway when playing a team of untrained bric-a-brac players on March 3.

The match is to help make a dying girl's wish become a reality and the club, as well as the wider community, have put their full weight behind it to raise as much money as possible for the Mellowpuff Charitable Trust.

Toko rugby captain Damian Wilson explains: "We have heard through the grapevine that Terry Long wants to come here to play. We switched numbers and I took it to the team. We love rugby and will play as many games as we can get. The whole team hands-down said they want to do this and got behind it."

Terry Long, of New Plymouth, is chairperson of the trust, which he and his wife Tanya set up in memory of their 17-year-old daughter Melissa, who lost a long battle with cancer in 2006.

Terry, who is with Sport Taranaki, says rugby is his passion, and to raise funds three years ago, he launched a rugby match, with the trust playing New Plymouth Boys High. They decided to take it around the mountain with an annual match.

"During the four years Melissa was ill, we received such support. It was Melissa's dying wish for other children suffering from adversity to also know this support. I promised her I would make it happen, hence the trust was formed."

The trust supports Taranaki children, aged 19 and under, who are going through adversity.

"The object of the trust is to remind children they are special no matter what their circumstances are. If we can provide financial assistance, an experience or a function that will ease their worries even for one day then we've succeeded. We will assist them in their school, treat them as a Very Important Person for a day, or give them an experience they always dreamed of."

The trust has assisted 60 children, a number of whom are from the Stratford district.

"Melissa always said 'believe and you will achieve' and that is our motto, written on the back of the club's pink jersey," says Terry.

The jersey is a sought-after item and one is auctioned off after the game to raise funds. The Toko Club's enthusiasm, with the support of the local business community, has seen around $2000 worth of farming and sports gear added to the auction.

A curtain-raiser game will be played at the club at 10am, followed by the main game from 11.30am-noon. There will also be the auction, a sausage sizzle and raffles, so bring lots of cash, says Damian, as all the proceeds will go to the trust.

- Stratford Press

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