Community & Business

27 January, 2024

Shining light for Henry White fundraiser raises over $25,000

IN possibly the biggest fundraiser that Millaa Millaa has ever seen, over $25,000 has been raised by Marina and Zach White for Stillbirth Foundation Australia.

By Brigitte Daley

magnificent achievement: Marina crosses the finishing line afer her marathon run.
magnificent achievement: Marina crosses the finishing line afer her marathon run.

The unimaginable loss of their baby son led them to set a goal to raise $10,000.

What they have actually raised to date, has far surpassed their initial target by more than double.

With donations still being made, they have decided to leave the fundraiser open for a slightly extended period of time to accommodate those who still wish to contribute.

On Saturday 13 January 2024, Marina ran the length of a marathon (42.2km) on a treadmill at the Millaa Millaa Hotel surrounded by her community.

Adjacent to her treadmill was a stationary cycling machine for those who wished to participate and show their support.

With over 150 people rallying to cheer her on, Marina started at 10am and finished at 4pm, completing her marathon run in a time of 6 hours.

She ran the last 1.2kms up and down the Main Street of Millaa Millaa.  

Marina said her baby son’s death was completely unexpected.

“On the 8th of September 2022, our son Henry White was stillborn at the Cairns Private Hospital,” Marina said.

“Henry's passing followed a textbook pregnancy.

“In the early days after losing Henry we were supported by Sands Australia which is connected with Red Nose Australia.

“My husband Zach and myself were so grateful for their support as bereaved parents and did not even know about Sands before our baby was born still.”

In Australia six babies are stillborn every day affecting over 2000 Australian families each year.

One in four pregnancies currently results in the stillbirth of a child. 

“We never believed this would happen to our family,” Marina said.

“Since Henry was born I have become so much more aware of a real problem in Australia.

“There is a real lack of knowledge when it comes to stillbirth. There is also a lot of stigma attached to stillbirth.

“No one wants to talk about stillbirth, probably because the death of a little baby is so unfathomable.

“I would like to be a part of the movement to change it all.

“Henry and what happened to Henry has become my drive, he is my ‘why’. Things need to change.”

Marina said the current rate of stillbirth in Australia has not declined in the last 30 years which is alarming to say the least.

“This is why I am fundraising for Stillbirth Foundation Australia,” she said

“They are 100% community funded and are researching ways to reduce the current rate of preventable stillbirth.

 “It's their aim to reduce the current rate of stillbirth in Australia by 20%.”

Marina said she was really proud of her community for showing kindness and support to her family and for opening up a safe place for bereaved parents to speak openly about the babies they have lost.

“The amount raised was not the only positive outcome of the day, it was the lovely conversations I had with several mothers who attended who felt comfortable enough to finally speak their babies’ names decades after their baby had passed away.

“Their silence came from the stigma attached to miscarriage, stillbirth and child loss.

“I know that Henry would have been proud that these women confidently spoke their babies’ names.

“I want to raise a kind soul.

“I want to teach Henry from all the way down here the values of his family that miss him so much.

“Unfortunately I don't get to breast feed Henry, or offer him healthy pureed food for him to smoosh all over his face, hug and play trucks with him, kiss his scratched knee and remind him they are 'brave marks' or take him to swimming classes.

“What I can do is choose to raise awareness about stillbirth.

“What I can do is choose to advocate for babies, pregnant mummas and bereaved parents.

“That is how I am going to raise my son until I meet him again."

The police community in the north contributed generously to the cause.

Numerous donations by businesses in the area were raffled off as prizes by the Millaa Millaa Lions Club with all proceeds going to the fundraising.

Southside Band also donated their time to play free of charge at the fundraiser.

Millaa Millaa Lions Club member Pat Reynolds said the day was about one person's dream to raise money for a very personal cause.

“Marina was backed by a very determined community and a large group of friends and colleagues.

“It was one of those days we will never forget and we wish all of Zac and Marina's friends could come and live in Millaa Millaa.”

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