The TLR Foundation was set up to help those people with blood cancers, bone marrow disorders and other diseases treatable by a bone marrow/stem cell transplant. Many patients must rely on finding generous people to donate their stem cells but finding a match can prove incredibly difficult for some. We at TLR want to help increase their chances by finding more donors.
We also recognise the vital role the nurses play in caring for both patients and the family around them and it is with love and gratitude we intend to fund further education for as many nurses as possible.
Established in 2017, the foundation was named in memory of Tracy Lee Richey, or Trace as he was known in Australia. Trace underwent a bone marrow/stem cell transplant in 2015 to treat a blood disorder called MDS but sadly didn’t make it. The love and care he received during this time from the nursing and medical staff around him was truly inspirational and so the TLR Foundation was set up to help as many people in Trace’s situation as possible, and to help the nurses specialising in the field of cancer & haematology.
Our mission is to give everyone needing a lifesaving bone marrow/stem cell transplant a better chance of a full recovery by:
1. Encouraging bone marrow donation in Australia through education and raising public awareness. Our goal is simple - to increase the number of donors on the Australian Bone Marrow Donor Database (ABMDR) to improve the chances of every patient finding a better match
2. Providing educational scholarships and fellowships for nurses working in the field of haematology oncology who care for patients with blood cancers, blood disorders and other diseases treatable by a bone marrow/stem cell transplant.
3. Funding and supporting research into the prevention, treatment, and cure of Graft vs Host Disease (GvHD), a common complication of an allogenic bone marrow/stem cell transplant where the donor bone marrow/stem cells attack the patient’s tissue.
Our logo represents two halves of a red blood cell, half from the donor and half from the patient. Of course this isn’t what happens in real life, but it signifies the coming together of the donor and the patient to form one healthy blood cell.
It was important for us that even in our logo we represented the white cross that signifies our commitment to nurses. We also wanted to acknowledge the original TLR logo used for the ‘All for Trace’ fundraising team which was used to represent us when we raised the original $300k for St Vincent’s Hospital.
Trace was the most adorable, charismatic and charming guy, with a contagious laugh and a cheeky smile. He was a fun-loving guy who lit up the room wherever he went. He had a heart of gold and a tremendous passion for helping others. In his professional life he was a dedicated fundraiser working for a variety of charities including the San Diego Hospice Foundation and the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. His fundraising career continued after moving to Australia working for the Children’s Hospital at Westmead, Mission Australia, and his career was about to continue at St. Vincent’s Curran Foundation but instead of working for the hospital he became a patient.
In 2013 Trace was diagnosed with MDS - Myelodysplastic Syndrome, a disease which stops bone marrow making healthy blood cells. After several rounds of chemotherapy, it was determined his only option was to have a Bone Marrow Transplant, so in February 2015 he checked into St. Vincent’s Hospital. From the day he arrived, Trace tried to put a smile on everyone’s face, impressing the people around him with his humour, his strength and resilience, courage and determination.
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Even while battling for his own life his thoughts were on helping others. He was told the nurses on the ward were trying to raise money for The Leukeamia Foundation’s Worlds Greatest Shave and that one ‘anonymous’ nurse was going to go bald if they reached their target of raising $2,000. Trace only found this out the day before the scheduled event and was so touched with their efforts he signed himself and Neil up and spent all his available energy fundraising. The next day he was so pleased that between himself and Neil they had raised over $7,000 and he got out of bed and walked to the wards reception area to shave Neil’s hair off, next to the no-longer anonymous nurse. This was to be Trace’s last public appearance.Tragically he succumbed to severe GvHD (Graft vs Host Disease) three weeks later after nothing short of an inspirational battle.
Trace’s sister, Brenda wrote the loveliest words:
"I am grateful that I was able to be witness to the St Vincent’s Hospital staff reaction to a life and a soul that all of us know to be ‘One of a Kind’. They say that a person’s characteristics are magnified when challenged, and I can attest to Tracy’s humour, wit, determination, and lack of self-pity that shined during these last few weeks of his life. Nurses and Doctors are supposed to remain detached and not get personally attached to the patients that they treat. One by one, they all came to the room, and laid their hands on Tracy and looked at me and Neil with such pain and sorrow over the fact that they “should have done more”. We assured them that they did all they could and reminded them of Tracy’s genuine gratitude to each and every single one of them as they tended to him. Tracy never gave up but left this life after the most courageous battle, fighting right up to the very end, but leaving peacefully with me his Sister, his best friend since the age of 4, Jon, and the love of his life Neil, by his side."
Inspired by his partner’s heroic battle and determined to ensure a lasting legacy for Trace, Neil Pennock made a commitment to raise $300k to fund a room in the new BMT Ward at St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney to be named after Trace. He did this by setting up the All for Trace Fundraising Group, whose events included a head shave, running 14 kms in Sydney’s City2Surf twice and a charity skydive. Amazingly, and thanks to a lot of extremely generous (and brave) people, the group raised $300k in under 2 years.
But funding the room at St Vincent’s Hospital was only the first step. Throughout the campaign, it became increasingly obvious to Neil that some good needed to come from losing Trace and so the TLR Foundation was established to continue this vital work. We know Trace would be very proud.
Our first goal was to help the patients directly by contributing to a first class facility at St. Vincent’s hospital and funding one of the rooms. Our second goal is to help the nurses who care for patients having to go through this most confronting of treatments. Our ultimate goal is to educate the young people of Australia and encourage bone marrow/stem cell donation.
We want everyone to know how easy donating stem cells actually is and how just a few hours of your time could potentially save someone’s life.
The "All For Trace" Story
It was only a few months after Trace had taken his last breath that the hospital made an announcement. St. Vincent’s Hospital was going to build a new Bone Marrow/Stem Cell Transplant ward featuring state of the art equipment to designed to reduce the risks of infection and give every patient the privacy and dignity they deserve when going through treatments as confronting as transplants.
Grief is an incredibly powerful emotion. At times it can be all-consuming, at times it be overwhelming, and at times it can be so painful that is becomes physical. But it can also sometimes be channelled into motivation for achieving a goal, as is the case here.
When Neil approached the people at St. Vincent’s Curran Foundation to ask what he needed to do to have a room named in Trace’s memory, their answer was simple. He would need to raise $300,000. After the initial ‘Holy Shit’ moment had lessened, they had shared their story on how they remembered Trace as he had applied for a job with them but had had to withdraw his application due to his declining health. This was all the coincidence Neil needed and he immediately made a commitment to raise the funds. To leave Trace with a legacy that will ultimately help thousands of others in his situation seemed so fitting, something he would be so proud of.
There is irony in the fact that Trace has such a skill and passion for fundraising his entire life, indeed it was his professional career, and yet when we needed his skills it would be to raise money in his memory. But inspiration from Trace’s last fundraising experience, and what turned out to be his final public appearance it was decided a charity Head Shave would be the first fundraising event.
Most people are very precious about their hair so talking to people about parting with theirs is a HUGE thing, especially for women. However, some people understand from personal experiences of others who are diagnosed with cancer who endure rounds of chemo that they have no choice as they invariably lose their hair. There is something quite liberating about shaving your head by choice rather than necessity, and we were absolutely blessed to come across 18 people who were willing to go under the clippers to help use raise money… 5 of them courageous ladies who deserve a massive shout out and ridiculous amounts of gratitude!
Thanks to those amazingly generous people willing to spend a few months bald, we managed to raise $125,000! Over a third of the way there on our first event.
Back in 2010, Trace and Neil walked an event in Sydney called the City2Surf – a 14 kms route from Hyde Park in the city to the iconic Bondi Beach. ‘Walking’ may be pushing it as they did discover the only pub on the route called The Golden Sheaf and stopped for a hydrating bottle of Pinot Gris, adding at least an hour to the time.
The City2Surf is the world's largest fun run with over 80,000 participants and appears on many people's bucket list. The 'All for Trace' team encouraged as many people from all fitness levels to join our fundrasing team with the promise of some food and drinks after crossing the finish line. We will always be very grateful for the support from AMP in supporting our fundraising efforts and for letting the team into their corporate marquee to rest and recover on Bondi Beach.
55 people ended up signing up and together we raised $67,000 and ended up an incredible THIRD PLACE on the entire City2Surf Leader board. Another $12,000 was donated in the month after the race bringing out total to $204,000. The support of people is such a beautiful thing and fundraising will always be an enormous team effort.
Next came the fundraising idea which is not for the faint of heart, and for someone like Neil with a fear of heights the biggest challenge yet. Skydiving! Somehow we managed to enlist 18 people all of whom agreed to get strapped onto an instructor, fly 15,000 meters high in the air and jump out over the ocean all in the name of Charity. These brave troopers all made it safely to the ground and to many people’s surprise, 15 of the team would absolutely do it again. For the other three however, that was a once in a lifetime event and Neil is one of the 3 who will never jump out of a plane again, although he is learning to never say never.
The “Chutes and Giggles – All for Trace” team raised over $36,000 on that day pushing the total to just over $240,000, an amazing team effort.
With the success of the 2016 City2Surf and so many of the team wanting to do it all again, we set our sights on registering the All for Trace team in the 2017 City2Surf. Strangely enough, many people would rather run, walk or crawl the 14 kms than jump out of a plane at 15,000 feet. With the support of so many people wanting the All for Trace team to reach the $300,000 goal we started training. Trace’s sister, Brenda flew in from the USA to join us raise money.
The “TLR – All for Trace team” came 5th on the City2Surf Leader Board in 2017 and raised $77,000 smashing the $300,000 goal.
The Trace Richey Room in the new Bone Marrow Transplant ward at St. Vincent’s is currently under construction and is planning being opened to patients in August of 2018. I am sure Trace would be speechless at what a group of people have done in his name, something which is even more special as it will continue to help thousands of patients into the future.
We cannot thank everyone enough for all their support, their time, their donations, their baldness, their 14 kms hikes and of course their jumping out of perfectly good planes at 15,000 feet!
But a special mention to those people who have participated in every single event – your support of TLR will always be very special:
Our Tick Of Approval
The TLR Foundation is proud to be registered with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC). We chose to register with the ACNC because we want you to know that we are transparent, ethical, reputable, and worthy of your support.
The TLR Foundation has deductible gift recipient (DGR) status as issued by the ATO.
ABN: 62 622 437 254. Charitable Fundraising Number CFN/24879.
TLR receives no government funding and relies entirely on the kind support of our donors, fundraisers and volunteers to continue our work.
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