Change is brewing with Karen Petersen pouring a new flavour into Mount Gambier’s Cancer Council SA fundraiser Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea after taking over from long time host and organiser Lois Bayre.
Since Ms Bayre started the event over 20 years ago it has grown to be the biggest of its kind outside of Adelaide, raising over $150,000 and seating 300-plus guests pre-COVID.
Ms Bayre was hesitant to give up the fundraiser without having anyone to continue the legacy and raise much needed funds for Cancer Council SA.
Fate struck when she ran into Mrs Petersen in Kmart who offered to take over the successful fundraiser.
The two ladies are connected by their experience losing loved ones to cancer and watching friends live with the disease which inspires them to raise money for such an important cause.
Mrs Peterson is no stranger to fundraising, hosting Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea on a smaller scale at her workplaces for 15 years and her Girl’s Night In breast cancer fundraiser for over a decade.
She is a previous member of the local Mount Gambier Cancer Council committee and Mount Gambier Breast Cancer Awareness Group and currently volunteers at the Royal Flying Doctor Service.
Mrs Peterson said everyone knows someone effected by cancer.
“It is a horrible disease and we all have to do what we can to try to find a cure,” she said.
“It is not just an emotional journey but a financial journey as well.
“I think fundraising is in my blood, my parents taught me from a young age it is nice to receive but better to give, especially to the community.”
Ms Bayre said she was delighted the fundraiser could continue.
“Even though Karen is a younger person with different ideas, it is still about raising money,” she said.
“When cancer hits close to home, it brings it all back to you.
“The Cancer Council are making progress but still not enough.
“It has been a significant part of my life and while it was nice to get recognition for it and get nominated for Mount Gambier’s Citizen of the Year in 2018, that is not why I do it.
“I loved doing it, my passion for fundraising was there and it still is because I know where the money goes.
“I was always blown away by the generosity of the business houses of Mount Gambier, Naracoorte, Millicent and Port MacDonnell.”
While most of the funds from the SA Cancer Council go toward prevention, support services and research for cancer, the recent 120 room Greenhill Lodge facility allows regional patients access to the best diagnosis and treatment possible in the city.
Mrs Peterson has already tasted success with a sold-out show for this year’s event which will take place on May 27 at the Blue Lake Bar and Bistro, catering to 140 guests.
This year’s event will include a trading table, raffles, fashion parade by Redgum Country, silent auction and a wine wall.
Channel Nine’s Will McDonald is a guest speaker and will call in live to talk about his experience with stage 4 prostate cancer.
Tea will be supplied by local company Leala Tea Co. and champagne will be offered on arrival from DiGiorgio Family Wines.
Cancer Council SA Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea aprons, teacups and tea towels are for sale at DJ Interiors and Décor House with the remaining merchandise available for purchase on the day.