For more than 30 years Lester Rogers has dedicated his spare time to help fulfil the wishes of terminally ill children with Make A Wish Bundaberg.
With a chuckle in his voice Lester recalls the past 31 years helping to put a smile on children’s faces.
“It was 1988 when I went to an insurance conference and a lovely lady gave a speech about helping children with life threatening illnesses with Make A Wish,” Lester said.
“So, at that time there was about four or five us, and we decided to hold a bowls day at Burnett Heads Bowls Club and we ended up raising $700!
“That was a lot for back then and we were then asked if we would like to start a branch here in Bundaberg and we decided we would.”
As one of Make A Wish Bundaberg’s founding members Lester has also had the role of local president, regional president, and director of volunteers for both Make A Wish Bundaberg and Make A Wish Australia.
“Initially, I tell people, we were standing in a group and the lady asked who ever wanted to be president to take a step forward, and I didn’t hear what she said but noticed everyone else took a step back and I was the only one left and that’s how I became president!” Lester tittered.
“I look at my time and see it as payment for having strong and healthy kids myself.”
The first wish for Make A Wish Bundaberg
The 72-year-old grandfather said granting a wish for a terminally ill child is the only payment he needs for the tireless time he had given to the not-for-profit organisation.
With passion in his voice Lester remembers the first Make A Wish granted in Bundaberg and said he still got shivers when thinking of it.
“Seeing kids get a wish is the reward I get from giving my time,” he said.
“I recall most of the wishes and in particular the very first wish here in Bundaberg.
“The wish was for a young girl, Kimberly, with cerebral palsy, she wanted to see snow.
“We held a movie fundraiser of Indian Jones and the Last Crusade, and at the time the theatre had just started as the Moncrieff.
“She was up on stage about to draw the raffle when she realised on the screen it said ‘your wish has been granted’ and her whole family went to New Zealand!”
Volunteer with Make A Wish Bundaberg
Lester said he would treasure these priceless moments, and encouraged others looking for a fulfilling volunteer role to contact the organisation.
“We now have 21 volunteers here in Bundaberg and of course we are always looking for more,” he said.
“I said the other night, I plan to stay as a volunteer for as long as I can, ‘here's to another 30 years with Make A Wish'.
“Bundaberg is a giving community and we have held more fundraisers than any other region in Australia.”
Lester said the organisation's next fundraiser will be held at Miara Caravan Park on New Years Eve.
Anyone interested in more information about Make A Wish Bundaberg can phone fundraising coordinator Angela Andrews on 0414 466 023, or himself on 0429 110 847.
- Other news: Donna awarded Quota Volunteer of the Year