24 May 2024

Young Penelope making her cup of difference for The Biggest Morning Tea

| Shri Gayathirie Rajen
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Penelope Ryan

Mater Dei Primary School Year Six student Penelope Ryan will host her Biggest Morning Tea next week. Photo: Leigh Ryan.

For the past 18 months Penelope Ryan has grown her dark blonde locks and plans to donate about 35 centimetres to be made into wigs for children with cancer.

The Year Six student at Mater Dei Primary School is among many around the Riverina who will host The Biggest Morning for Cancer Council. She is set to cut off her ponytail, which will be made into a wig through Wigs 4 Kids, a charity for children with cancer.

The 11-year-old decided to support the cause after seeing her grandfather battle melanoma and her grandmother battle breast cancer.

Penelope said she wanted to donate her hair because she could put a smile on another kid’s face at a tough time in their life.

“Lots of people can donate money, but what I can do is donate hair,” Penelope said.

“There are a lot of kids out there that needed it more than me.

“This is the first time I’m doing this [cutting her for charity], and I’m super excited about it.”

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Penelope said supporting the Cancer Council was something important to her.

“It [her hair] is going to someone who needs it, and I’m someone who can do something about it … not many people will, but I can, and that’s what makes it so special to me.”

“Supporting Cancer Council, we help people fight their battle.

Penelope said her friends at school were supportive and rallying behind her cause.

Penelope’s father, Leigh Ryan, said his daughter was the driving force behind the cause and expressed immense pride in her efforts to support the cause.

“I’m super proud,” Leigh said. “A couple of months ago, she decided to do this and got the ball rolling.

“She’s been talking about hair donation for 18 months, and it was from when her hair was too short [to cut], and we’ve had to wait.

“She wrote a letter to the principal, came home, and told us she wanted to do it afterwards. ”

Penelope Ryan

Penelope has been growing her hair for the past 18 months. Photo: Leigh Ryan.

Leigh said his mother and father’s cancer battle highlighted the importance of early detection and advanced treatment, which wouldn’t have been possible without the support of the Cancer Council.

“What would have been a severe melanoma five years ago and would have been difficult to treat … my dad’s now going through immunotherapy, and he’s doing great. He’s been on this treatment for about 12 months and is well on the road to recovery,” Leigh said.

“Back in the 90s, a friend of mine lost his mum to breast cancer. However, survival outcomes are much better with the work done around prevention, early detection and treatment.

“My mum was very rigorous about early detection, which is important … she’s fine and in remission, and there’s no sign of it coming back.”

Leigh urges anyone who can to donate a few dollars to the cause.

“The work they do with the 13 11 20 number for 24/7 support is amazing,” he said. “The transport to treatment program they run is life-changing.”

Penelope’s goal was to raise $500 and has already raised just over $1100 in online donations and $200 in cash donations.

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Penelope is hosting her Biggest Morning Tea at Mater Dei Primary School on Monday 27 May, at 11 am to raise as much money as possible with the school community’s help.

On the day, students will donate a gold coin for a tasty treat at recess: cupcakes, biscuits, and Milo.

Mater Dei Primary School’s mini Vinnies group, which does a lot of the charity work around the school, will help by baking cupcakes.

Cancer Council’s Dougal Bear will pay a visit to the event.

Head to The Biggest Morning Tea’s website if you wish to donate to Penelope’s event.

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