Retired Ballarat policeman John Moloney never thought the Cops ‘n’ Kids initiative would grow into what it is today.
Mr Moloney, one of the founders of the cancer support program, was one of many to celebrate its 20th year at a ball at Bray Raceway last Saturday.
The Cops ‘n’ Kids initiative is run in conjunction with the Melbourne-based Challenge organisation and continues to have a significant impact across Ballarat and Victoria with its two yearly camps for children.
However, little did Mr Moloney know, the milestone was was just a part of the celebration.
After his speech, the retired Ballarat Police Sergeant was rendered star struck when presented with a star named in his honour.
A literal star, located in space near the Southern Cross and identified under the International Star Registry.
Mr Moloney, softly spoken and forever humble, describes himself as “just another small cog in a great organisation”.
“It is very, very humbling,” he said.
“I see the star as in recognition as a whole group of people, not just myself. I’m just the lucky person with the name on there.
“One person can’t do all that by themselves. It’s the police members, it’s the volunteers, it’s the businesses and all the community in Ballarat that have made this happen.”
The ball was attended by current Cops ‘n’ Kids president Dave Collins, Challenge officials and many of the regular volunteers and contributors.
Mr Moloney estimates the program has touched the lives of more than 1100 youngsters over the past 20 years.
“We run two camps (per year), one in Ballarat for people from all over Victoria with kids aged four to eight (with cancer or other life threatening illnesses),” he said.
“The other one we look after Ballarat families that we take down to Queenscliff in February.”
And while it is no doubt the kids that benefit, Mr Moloney believes the initiative is also positive for current officers feeling the pinch of the job.
“It’s a great leveler of life,” he said.
“When I was down at the (police) station, I would often say to the members to come along because for 361 days of the year their job is fairly traumatic with a lot of pressure and a lot of demand.
“They’d be in situations that are sometimes life and death at work, but this is about having a lot of fun.
“At heart we’re all kids – we’re just a little bit older in life and have the ability to drive a police car.”