SAVING lives through meningococcal awareness is a big part of Emma-Kate McGrath’s legacy. Her family, and the foundation named in her honour, are preparing to take the next step.
The 4EK foundation is exploring ways to help children and families affected by the deadly bacterial infection. This could be with financial help for prosthetics or medical needs.
Mum Abby McGrath said this is what Emma-Kate would want, this is what she would have been doing. Emma-Kate was always wanting to help people.
The bubbly 19-year-old died in early May last year from meningococcal septicaemia strain W. Emma-Kate was in her first year of nursing-paramedicine studies at Australian Catholic University and had spent time volunteering in Cambodia.
“Emma was passionate about health and making a difference,” Ms McGrath said. “She loved to do things to help others and give back.”
Efforts to fundraise and raise awareness in her name have tallied more than $10,000, via 4EK, with 100 per cent of all money raised focusing on awareness work and promoting immunisation via organisations like Meningococcal Australia and Violet Foundation.
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Passionate, personal efforts in the community have prompted Ms McGrath and close friend Lucy Loader to think broadly about ways to continue Emma-Kate’s legacy.
Royal South Street Society’s Energetiks dance competition is the latest to add to the cause in honour of the beloved dancer. RSSS reinstated its masterclass this season for the first time in 20 years, a program traditionally made a community fundraiser.
Dance section chairman Kerryn Gledhill said 4EK was an obvious choice. Ms Gledhill said Emma-Kate’s friends at Dance School of Distinction danced so proud for her last year with an overflow of emotion when the curtain came down.
RSSS, a charity itself, felt compelled to do what it could for 4EK. Ms Gledhill said even the rival calisthentics community threw its support behind tin rattles at performances.
It was when a boy, aged less than 10, donated his dance prize money to the cause that Ms Gledhill felt people were truly listening.
Dancers raised more than $1000 for 4EK, including money raised from more than 30 participants taking up a masterclass with competition adjudicators.
This adds to fundraising efforts from Buninyong Primary, where Emma-Kate went to school, and Ballarat Grammar. Anita Michaels at Dance School of Distinction also introduced the Emma-Kate award this year.
These gestures were what prompted Ms McGrath and Ms Loader consider looking to help families.
The 4EK Facebook page has been running for more than a year and has fast attracted followers worldwide, helped largely and somewhat unexpectedly, Ms Loader said, by social influencers and bloggers sharing the page.
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“We get lots of messages because of what happened to Emma-Kate and people telling us they made sure they got immunised after reading her story,” Ms Loader said. “Our primary objective was even if this helped one person it was worth it. We’ve had thousands who have reached out.”
Since Emma-Kate’s death, a vaccine against A, C, W and Y strains of the disease has been added to the National Immunisation Program for infants. In Victoria, all year 10 students or those not at school aged 15 and 16 can receive the meningococcal ACWY vaccine free until December 31.
Young people aged 14 to 19 will be able to access the ACWY vaccine free in a catch-up program from April.
People are urged to check vaccines with their doctor.
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