7 June 2023

Dainere Anthoney's legacy of hope lives on in the Bibbidi Bobbidi Ball

| Travis Radford
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Dainere and Yvonne Anthoney.

Yvonne Anthoney (left) continues Dainere’s (right) legacy through Dainere’s Rainbow. Photo: Supplied.

The Bibbidi Bobbidi Ball is a funny name for a serious fundraiser – the annual event seeks to raise awareness and funds to find a cure for childhood brain cancer, the deadly disease which claimed the event’s 15-year-old creator a decade ago.

Canberra teenager Dainere Anthoney died from a type of cancerous brain tumour known as medulloblastoma.

According to the Cancer Council, an average of 101 Australian children die from cancer every year, with the highest proportion of those cancer deaths (39 per cent) from tumours of the central nervous system, like the cancer that killed Dainere.

But her ideas have lived on through the family-run not-for-profit, Dainere’s Rainbow Brain Tumour Research Fund, which is throwing the fundraising ball that Dainere herself named.

“It’s based around a vision Dainere had because she left us a whole book of ideas of what to do after she was gone. She was a forward thinker,” mother Yvonne Anthoney says.

“She planned this, and the Bibbidi Bobbidi Ball is … actually on the 24th of June, which is the date she died [in 2013] at 7:25 pm, so this year is extremely meaningful.

“It’s about Dainere, remembering her, continuing her legacy and helping all these other children … that have been diagnosed with brain cancer or who will be.”

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Dainere regularly described finding a cure to brain cancer as her “greatest wish in life” in a blog she wrote to chronicle her life between 2010 and 2013.

“My life goal is to do as much as I can to make a difference. A cure will not be found in my lifetime, but my wish is that no children in the future will have to suffer as many others and myself have had to,” she wrote two months before her death.

Dainere sought to spread inspiration and hope both online through her blog and offline as she continued attending school throughout her treatment. She also published two books.

All proceeds from the books were donated to childhood brain cancer research. During her lifetime, she raised about $100,000 towards the cause.

She was posthumously named Young Canberra Citizen of the Year in 2013, jointly with her brother Jarrett, who raised a further $50,000 himself.

“It is a really cruel disease, and that’s why Dainere wanted to make it better for children who came after her,” Yvonne says.

“She suffered so much, but she took her suffering and created something so positive by wanting to help others.”

Anthoney family photo

The Anthoney family (from left to right), Nalani, Steven, Dainere, Yvonne and Jarrett. Photo: Supplied.

Yvonne, her partner Steven and children Nalani and Jarrett set up Dainere’s Rainbow less than a year after Dainere’s death to continue her legacy of advocacy and fundraising for childhood brain cancer.

“It’s a lifetime commitment,” Yvonne says, that she hopes will be continued by her grandchildren towards the goal of fulfilling Dainere’s wish and finding a cure for childhood brain cancer.

Not only are the ideas for the fundraising events drawn from Dainere’s idea book, but Dainere also designed the not-for-profit’s rainbow logo with the help of her sister, Nalani.

“It only has six colours,” Yvonne explains. “The reason is that it only will have the seventh colour when a cure is found and it becomes a rainbow of hope for everyone.”

The wholly volunteer-run organisation has donated about $600,000 for Sydney Children’s Hospital’s paediatric brain tumour research, led by Dainere’s former paediatric oncologist.

The Disney-themed (again chosen by Dainere) ball is a seventh-of-its-kind fundraising event, where Yvonne hopes to raise a further $20,000 or more towards the goal of “a million and beyond”.

“I think [Dainere] would be so proud, and it would mean a lot to her to think that families have been helped because of her,” Yvonne says.

“She did say that, ‘My little voice could only make a small difference, but together many voices could create change.'”

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Yvonne encouraged others to be part of that change by donating what they could to groups like Dainere’s Rainbow or simply spreading awareness about childhood brain cancer.

“It all relies on funding and it is community funding that starts everything and until they’re getting results, that’s when they may get an amount of government funding,” she says.

“With brain cancer, research is the key because there are no factors that they can find as to why children or adults have brain cancer.

“It’s not like many other cancers where … if you have this gene or if you drink or smoke, it can lead to you having cancer.”

The Bibbidi Bobbidi Ball will be held on Saturday, 24 June, from 6 pm. Ticket sales close on Friday, 9 June. To book a seat or to donate directly, visit Dainere’s Rainbow.

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