Netball rally raises funds for Darnae

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Arran Lowe, of Invercargill gets stuck into a game on the public court at the 12-hour netballathon on Sunday, held at ILT Stadium Southland in Invercargill. Photo: Abbey Palmer

HUNDREDS of Southlanders rallied for a 12-hour netballathon on Sunday in support of a young community member recovering from major surgery overseas.

Teams, including local body election candidates, took part in a non-stop rally from 8am to 8pm, to raise awareness and money for 13-year-old Darnae Lowe-McPherson.

The Bluff youngster has, for the past month, been in Barcelona, Spain, recovering from a life-altering operation for Idiopathic Scoliosis, a condition characterised by abnormal curvature of the spine and which can cause back pain, balance and co-ordination issues, breathing difficulties and cardiovascular problems.

When Darnae told her Southland Girls’ High School 8A netball team about her diagnosis, their only question was, “how can we help?”

Coach Karen Skerrett along Vanessa Sherriff, a mother of another player, had spent months with the team organising Sunday’s event.

“We’ve had several messages from the family today, they’ve been live-streaming [with] us and she’s [Darnae] doing really well,” Mrs Skerrett said.

Mrs Sherriff said the family were “totally humbled” by the community’s efforts – “they just love everybody here”.

Darnae’s scoliosis was rendered “too severe” to operate on in New Zealand, so her and her family travelled to Spain last month for the surgery, which cost almost $86,000.

Extended family from Dunedin, Alexandra, and Invercargill also attended the event at the weekend.

A representative of the family said they were incredibly grateful.

Southern Steel’s Kendall McMinn got involved in several games throughout the day.

“I had my first game of walking netball which was hilarious… their centre was 83 [years old], which was great. They came out here and played and they really enjoyed themselves,” she said.

Mrs Skerrett thanked ILT Stadium Southland for supplying the courts for free, as well as Netball South, Invercargill Netball Centre, Invercargill Young Professionals, Made to Move, the Invercargill Licensing Trust, HW Richardson Group, and all the event organisers.

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