Skydivers determined to sock it to sarcoma


Harry O’Neil, centre, with Damian Franzmann and mother Victoria. Picture: Jon Hewson        www.communitypix.com.au   d451473
Harry O’Neil, centre, with Damian Franzmann and mother Victoria. Picture: Jon Hewson        www.communitypix.com.au d451473

In what has become an annual test of mettle, Mrs O’Neill has organised a group of 16 people to take the plunge, this time to benefit Sock it to Sarcoma.

Bone cancer research and awareness is a cause close to the Melville resident’s heart after son Harry was diagnosed with the disease when he was just nine.

After a gruelling operation to remove a tumour in his shoulder five years ago, Harry remains free of the disease, but Mrs O’Neill remains as committed as ever.

“When Harry was sick, I wanted to do something to raise money, but I didn’t want to just sell chocolates because everybody does that,” she said.

“My niece from the UK suggested skydiving – I think Harry had been in hospital for three weeks at that stage and I thought it was a really cool idea.”

After fighting off second thoughts, Mrs O’Neill and a total of 33 others started the tradition five years ago.

“Harry was diagnosed in June and we jumped for the first time the following January,” she said.

“We literally came out of chemotherapy, went and did the jump and then took Harry straight back to chemo.

“The first jump was in benefit of Princess Margaret Hospital, but since then we’ve also supported Camp Quality and this is the second time we’re donating the money to Sock it to Sarcoma.

“Without research, Harry would not be alive today and we need to continue to raise money so that the statistics when diagnosed continue to improve and people have better odds of surviving.”

Joining Mrs O’Neill this year is fellow Melville resident Damian Franzmann, who is also well acquainted with bone cancer.

“My wife Francesca Nelson contracted sarcoma in October 2012 and she died the following August,” he said.

“Our mate Al Weir was at Francesca’s funeral and then six week later, he was also diagnosed with sarcoma.

“Luckily, Al is fully recovered and two years clear and he is actually doing the jump with us as well.

“Sarcoma usually affects children and young adults, but not always, and it can also be very aggressive.”

The 16 participants are hoping to raise $20,000 before their April 2 skydive.

To donate, visit here