This week the NRL, AFL, rugby and soccer boys are wearing a new strip on the field. It’s magenta polka dots, lightning bolts and zebra stripes, with olive and puce armbands, which stands for raising awareness week and making sure caring and giving back is in the headlines with a few high profile footy boofheads adorned in the right colours.
In a profound press release, Lina Tell-All White a publicist with a certificate in marketing and an educational background that includes being expelled from most upmarket Sydney schools revealed,
“We’re raising awareness of raising awareness. There may be a fun run. We had seven different marketing committees choosing the palette and pairing it with matching wines and food served in gumboots at an overpriced invitation-only dinner at an exclusive inner city hotel. What it means is that we stand for making instant Instagram stars of the people wearing the well-chosen outfits and hoping their media profiles will raise awareness of a thoughtful charity drive that will make money so we can show that we’re thinking of lots of issues on right-wing radio, commercial television and all the socials. It’s really important for politicians, influencers and even ordinary punters to know what we stand for. Even if we don’t.”
“We are also running another timely campaign, we desperately need funding to buy more açai smoothie bowls for girls who went to overpriced schools who now can’t afford to buy homes within 20 kilometres of the expensive suburb they grew up in. It’s a national tragedy and we need to fix it,” said another spokeswoman from a massive yacht on Sydney Harbour. “They may not be homeless but their needs are great. Raising Awareness, reality TV ‘stars’ wearing exorbitantly priced clothing and building fame, that’s really all we want from a charity appeal, Australia just doesn’t have enough of it. Our thoughts and prayers are with all the celebrities with less than 100K followers on Instagram.”
Today the Australian Clown Doctor community say farewell to our beloved leader, ever-smiling, humble, generous, warm hearted Peter Spitzer, the son of Czech Holocaust survivors who became a doctor then started The Humour Foundation charity in Australia. In 1996 I remember sitting in the gym of a sweaty police boys club in Erskineville with a handful of other fools while Peter explained what a Clown Doctor program could look like. Peter’s vision made our work a reality. Over the years I had the privilege of working with Peter at Sydney Children’s Hospital, The Children’s Hospital at Westmead and Royal North Shore Hospital, as well as sharing meals at our conferences and hours doing workshops and training where he taught us more ways to help those suffering. We were always inspired by his love for all the fabulous families we are lucky enough to meet in our hospital Clown rounds. Peter Spitzer approached all human life forms with an open heart, eager to learn their stories, connecting with everyone, young and old, whether the head of the hospital or a small kid in need of some distraction. He had the sharp mind of an eager scientist, always enthusiastically sharing his findings with us, always looking for ways to better our work.
My years as a Clown Doctor were punctuated by visits to Peter’s house after the Bowral Ball, where he worked his magic and made people laugh, while the lovely locals raised money to continue our programs. I treasure the memories of staying over at Peter’s house afterwards, and grand breakfasts with Peter and his darling wife Judy as we discussed our work and new ways to fundraise with his beautiful band of supporters. Later I was lucky enough to work with Peter on the pilot Elder Clown program, where Peter shared his passion for making life better for adults living with dementia.
Dear Doctor Fruit-Loop (see I didn’t forget the hyphen) you gave us a purpose for our work. You never grew tired of seeing the joy on a sick child’s face. You gave our performing lives so much meaning, we weren’t there to show off, we were there to empower sick children and frail elderly people. It is always about them, not us. Clown Doctoring is not a job, it is a calling, and you showed us the way. We are so sad you have left us but we vow to continue your work, we want you to be proud of us. Adios Doctor Fruit-Loop, I will think of you and the twinkle in your eyes when I carry far too many props in my coat, whenever I see a rubber chicken, or see a child’s face change from fear to laughter. I’m so glad I told you how much we all loved you the last time i saw you. I have a job and a life of meaning thanks to you. Thank you for sharing your gifts with us, you have left a magnificent legacy.
One month from today on Sunday August 10 I will be walking 14 kilometres from the city of Sydney to Bondi beach in my best Calvin Clown tracksuit to raise money for Clown Doctors Australia. The Clown Doctors treat sick children in hospital with smiles, fun and laughter when they need it most. We touch the lives of over 155,000 people a year, and ‘operate’ in partnership with 21 hospitals around Australia. The entire hospital community benefits – patients, family and staff. The Humour Foundation provides this service free of charge to hospitals. The work of the Clown Doctors is extremely important and the healing power of humour has been recognised in many studies. Everyone knows that “Laughter is the best medicine,” and research has found physiological and psychological benefits to patients. The outcome of making a child smile at a very difficult time is instant, but one that can have a long lasting effect for both the child and their family. Having an intervention which is able to provide humour and improve health can often be a strong coping technique for a sick kid. I love my job and I love talking and walking so I’d better start bulking up on my carbs (do donuts count?), I need to be ‘match fit’ in one month.
You can donate here: https://city2surf2014.everydayhero.com/au/drquack
In May 1986 I stood singing outside the South African embassy in London for a few weeks with a bunch of other ratbag protestors hoping that our combined voices could help free Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. I only knew about him because of the song by The Specials AKA. He was freed in 1990. I don’t think it was because of our singing. Nelson Mandela was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. Madiba’s health may be ailing but we can look to him for inspiration.
Tomorrow is Mandela Day. All you have to do on July 18 is donate 67 minutes of your day to doing something good in any way you can. Nelson Mandela gave 67 years of his life to the struggle for social justice. Can you spare 67 minutes of yours to support a charity or serve your local community? Make every day a Mandela Day.