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Smiles all around for John Hunter Children’s Hospital Kids Club

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Their infectious smiles are there for all to see every year at the Newcastle Harness Racing Club’s (NHRC) night of nights.

But, the ladies from the John Hunter Children’s Hospital Kids Club hope a different type of “beaming grin” will result in a hefty windfall for them when the organisation hosts the 2022 AVE Technologies Newcastle Mile on Friday 18 February.

Founded in 1993, the volunteer-run charity has raised more than $2 million for the purchase of medical equipment and vital resources as well as support services, which enhance a child’s experience within the hospital setting.

And, they’re keen to add to their coffers this week.

“The NHRC, and the Newcastle Mile, is an amazing thing for us,” Jan Waugh said.

“We’ve conducted raffles on race nights [here] over the past 18 years, amassing approximately $250,000 to help sick kids of the Hunter-New England region.

“However, for a change, we don’t do that for this event.

“The club will provide the ‘smiles’, which are sold before the running of the Newcastle Mile.

“They are then drawn (like a Calcutta) where people receive a horse.

“So, if you’re lucky enough to draw the winner of the Newcastle Mile, you’ll receive $1,000.

“There are other cash prizes for the minor placings, but every horse wins at least $100.

“It’s a very generous sweepstake.

“Every ‘smile’ costs $5 to purchase, so we benefit from the total amount sold.

“We also conduct a bucket collection at the gates.”

Ms Waugh said the John Hunter Children’s Hospital Kids Club helpers were in awe of the City’s big-hearted community.

“We’re always stunned by Newcastle’s generosity,” she told the Newcastle Weekly.

“But, I think the people know it’s a worthy cause.

“Even on normal raffle days, they have their money out on the table ready.

“It’s beautiful.

“They’re also aware all the money goes to the Kids Club; it doesn’t go anywhere else.”

One of the charity’s biggest fans is Novocastrian and 2014 Miss Universe Australia winner Tegan Martin, the Newcastle Mile ambassador.

“I really appreciate what the ladies do, it warms my heart,” she said.

“They are the first people I see every year at the Newcastle Mile.

“They’re all the same lovely faces, too.

“Each and every one of them does an amazing job – and I know the families are extremely grateful.”

Ms Martin, who describes herself as “part of the furniture” at the NHRC, has witnessed the benefits of the volunteers’ efforts first-hand.

“I used to visit the hospital regularly before COVID-19,” she said.

“Although I love seeing the kids, it really changes your perspective on life and makes you realise what’s important.

“It can be quite overwhelming meeting the families and hearing what they, and their beautiful children, are going through.

“After a visit, over the following six months, I find myself enjoying life and not sweating about the small stuff.

“So, that’s why I admire the ladies from the John Hunter Children’s Hospital Kids Club.”

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