The Kanona Fundraiser, organised by the group of friends for their “bestie” Shannon Skews raised $33,000 through an auction on the night.
The auction featured items ranging from luxury hotel stays, services and art donated by the local business community, individuals and families who all want to help the young woman cover the cost of cancer treatment.
Sadly, it was Shannon’s mother Mousie Skews who was first diagnosed with cancer. Mother and daughter are going through their treatment together in Auckland, their days brightened by the many visitors from home.
Together, the four friends in Rarotonga - Leilani Gardiner, Fronzuance Tiseli, Melinda Pierre and Charlene von Hoff went out to the community and asked for help. The community’s response was awesome, says Leilani.
Leilani, Melinda and good friend Jacopo also sold off locks of their long hair before the Kanona event, raising $6,900. Leilani says the fundraiser actually began with an act of love and support she wanted to show for her friend Shannon.
“It all started off with me deciding to get a haircut and shave to show support for our friend Shannon who had lost hers from the treatment, and everyone who knows Shannon knows that she loved her hair.
“Then Mel wanted to join, then it went to ‘let’s find some sponsors’, then it became ‘let’s make a huge event of it and have an auction’.”
Now the four friends are overwhelmed by the support the Kanona event has been given. The point of difference in the auction was opening it up to bidding from New Zealand and Australia.
“All our overseas bidders lost except my brother Sadaraka, and he’ll be using his prize for an Aitutaki honeymoon after his wedding here,” says Leilani.
Remembering the lead-up to Saturday night, Leilani says the four friends, all being strong-minded women fought, bickered and squabbled throughout.
“It’s amazing we’re all still friends,’ she says, laughing. But that they are still friends is proof of the depth of friendship in this group of special women.
Leilani acknowledges that without the generosity of the local community, the Kanona Fundraiser would never have raised such an outstanding amount in a short space of time.
“On behalf of the Kanona friends, we are truly grateful for the many people who showed their support leading up to the event and on the night.