Clermont smashes SMARD

Blair Athol Bush Sports donates over $45,000 for SMARD research


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Blair Athol Bush Sports president Jeff Cook and treasurer Elise Lawrence handing over a cheque to SmashSMARD representatives and fellow committee members Dean Williams and Crystal Watson.

Blair Athol Bush Sports president Jeff Cook and treasurer Elise Lawrence handing over a cheque to SmashSMARD representatives and fellow committee members Dean Williams and Crystal Watson.

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If you're in the Clermont region and you see a T-shirt that says #smashSMARD, chances are the wearer is one of the many generous people who helped raise more than $45,000 for an extremely rare genetic condition that took one of their youngest members from them early this year.

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If you're in the Clermont region and you see a T-shirt that says #smashSMARD, chances are the wearer is one of the generous people who helped raise more than $45,000 for an extremely rare genetic condition that took one of their youngest members from them early this year.

The Blair Athol Bush Sports committee was more determined than ever to run its annual rodeo, campdraft and gymkhana for a special cause when members Dean Williams and Crystal Watson lost their baby boy, Jovi, at just over seven weeks of age.

Jovi was a little over a month old on Christmas Eve last year when he almost stopped breathing in Dean's arms.

They raced him to the Clermont Hospital and were then flown to Townsville, where he was supported by a ventilator.

After many negative tests they were transferred to the Queensland Children's Hospital in Brisbane. An ultrasound revealed a paralysed diaphram and collapsed lung but no reason why until Dean and Crystal undertook genetic testing.

"Our worst fears were confirmed with Jovi being diagnosed with SMARD1," Crystal said.

Dean Williams, Jovi Williams and Crystal Watson at Theresa Creek Dam, prior to diagnosis. Photo by Julie Turner.

Dean Williams, Jovi Williams and Crystal Watson at Theresa Creek Dam, prior to diagnosis. Photo by Julie Turner.

Standing for Spinal Muscular Atrophy with Respiratory Distress, the condition affects a gene in the body that produces a protein that control muscle movement. Mutations cause severe muscle weakness and the disorder is more severe the earlier it becomes active.

Jovi's little body wasn't able to withstand its harsh symptoms and he passed away on January 14 this year.

"We all felt so helpless when Jovi died," Blair Athol Bush Sports president Jeff Cook said, explaining the different feel to the May Day long weekend event this year.

"While it does not change what has happened, our contribution could potentially help save the life of someone else's child.

"The generosity that came out from our community was overwhelming."

Brought back to a two-day event, nominations were strong and the quality of competitors in both the campdraft and rodeo provided the usual high level of entertainment for the group situated 18km north of Clermont.

The weekend kicked off with a rodeo on Friday night, followed by campdrafting and gymkhana events on Saturday and more campdrafting on Sunday.

A storm on Saturday meant motorbike events had to be cancelled.

The Burnett family once again provided quality stock for the draft, which made competition fierce.

Jason Comiskey took out the Clermont Livestock open draft on Monika, with a close win over Robert Durkin.

The passion of members made up for their small numbers, raising $10,000 for SMARD research.

On top of this and with the support of the Clermont community, a charity auction held on the Saturday night raised $35,670, making the total donation from the weekend a massive $45,670.

"Each year our committee financially gives back to our local community in some way," Mr Cook said. "This year our contribution was even closer to our hearts, which I think always makes you push a little bit harder to make the weekend a success."

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