By GREG WHITE
WITH any sort of luck, 2008 will be the year the Elly Stig Memorial Golf Day passes the magical 'quarter million dollars' mark.
Since the event began in 1994 raising money to research the causes of cancer in children, the barometer sits on $225,000 and hard-working organising committee member Merle Tuckey is praying the 15th staging at Nambucca Heads Island Golf Course on Sunday, January 6, will finally see the landmark target passed.
"Every body has a feeling this will be the year and if the generosity of the community and our loyal band of sponsors many of whom have been there from the start is any indication, we'll give a quarter million raised a big shake," she said.
Elly Stig was only 11 months old when she died of leukaemia in July 1993 but this tragic loss inspired her grandfather, local community and sporting legend Ray Stig, to begin raising funds for the Children's Cancer Institute.
Ray was recently presented with a Children's Cancer Institute Benefactors Award by Her Excellency the Governor of New South Wales, Professor Marie Bashir AC, for his outstanding contribution and support.
The golf event sponsored by the Enterprise and Training Company (ETC) is a four person Ambrose and teams must register at the golf shop (6568 8172) or clubhouse (6569 4111) for a shotgun start.
Cost is $10 per person which includes lunch.
But once the golf has been completed, the real action gets under way with a Memorabilia Auction that's become the envy of fundraising groups around the nation.
Some of the biggest names in Australian and World sport are on first name terms with the organisers and have gone to enormous lengths to lend their identity to the cause, including Test captain Ricky Ponting and his wife, Riana.
Ponting is official ambassador for the Institute and went the extra mile to ensure his piece of memorabilia has extra value.
"Ricky let us know in advance his contribution this time would be a set of batting gloves," Merle Tuckey said.
"But first we had to wait a couple of months while he took them into battle in the series against England.
"So when they are offered in the auction as an Ashes Test artefact, they'll be the real thing, right down to the grass stains and sweat."
South Sydney Rabbitohs have swamped the committee with merchandise while turf icons, Darren Beadman and John Hawkes,!have continued their dedicated support.
The champion jockey and trainer have entered several items in the famous Ingham cerise colours and with their recent retirement from Crown Lodge and the Woodlands Stud racing conglomerate, the items will become increasingly rare and soar in value.
"Rugby League people are involved due to Ray Stig's connections and we received a call from broadcaster Ray Hadley offering an item from a Kangaroo tour," Tuckey said.
"Once again, we were asked to be patient while some extra value was added and a little while later, an Australian jacket turned up with a special signature on the sleeve.
"Ray tracked down Bobby Fulton who was coach on the tour and got his signature so the item was extra special."
There's also a growing prestige being part of the Elly Stig Memorial appeal.
In fact, a Google search reveals the famous Warrington Wolves footy club in England proudly list support on their website.
Tuckey said Samantha Birmingham, Community Events Executive of the Children's Cancer Institute Australia, will again be a guest at the function.
"Last year she was blown away by the good feeling the golf day and auction gives to everybody involved," she added.
"Around 1.15pm she'll give a short address on the work of the Institute and welcome the participants."
For further information contact Merle Tuckey on 6569 4552 or Ray Stig on 6568 6701.