05 Jun Annual lunch raises $652,000 in 10th year
A record number of guests at the 10th anniversary Smart Pups luncheon in Brisbane dug very deep for the charity and saw first hand the joy in a child’s face as nine-year-old Matilda was presented with her own assistance dog.
Host Donna Lynch surprised Matilda and her parents, Kylie and Jason, with the puppy called Lynchy in front of 480 guests, including VIPs such as swimming legend and Charity Patron Dawn Fraser AC MBE, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Deputy Premier Steven Miles, at the Paddo Pub in Brisbane last week.
Kylie said the family was very grateful to have been gifted a Smart Pup. A lifetime of food for Lynchy was donated by Big Dog Pet Foods.
Event organiser Craig Harley, CEO of Clubs Queensland, said $652,000 was raised on the day with 100% of the funds donated to Smart Pups.
“Every individual that has attended and supported this event over the decade has made a significant difference to numerous children and their family’s lives,” he said.
Since 2011, the Sunshine Coast-based charity has provided 270 assistance dogs to children with special needs. Smart Pups trains autism service dogs, seizure response dogs and multi-purpose assistance dogs to help children with day-to-day routines, activities and events.
Each puppy takes 12-14 months to become a fully trained assistance dog, which costs around $30,000.
This year’s lunch and charity auction raised $152,000, while a further $500,000 was donated as a Queensland Government Charitable Contribution.
Guests enjoyed a seafood lunch and listened to guest speakers, including Peter Moody, with MC Ben Dobbin, hosts Donna Lynch and Pat Welsh, and entertainment by Sheppard.
Smart Pups CEO Janelle Denny said the annual lunch and charity auction had grown every year and a special aspect was the presentation of a Smart Pup to one very lucky family.
“Craig asks us to find a deserving client who needs a helping hand with their fundraising and then surprises them with completing their fundraising and presenting them with the pup that Smart Pups will train for their child with special needs.
“Thanks just doesn’t seem enough to everyone involved with this lunch, the promoters, speakers, hotel venue and the donors. Most of all Craig who works tirelessly to ensure the success of this day,” she said.