December 4, 2002
Prison all ears when it came to Rachael's case
From: Hawkesbury Gazette, Australia - 04 Dec 2002
• by Emma Whale
Wednesday, 4 December 2002
THE link between the power of the media and helping the community was no better demonstrated last Thursday when John Morony Correctional Centre staff presented a $3000 cheque to the Sydney Cochlear Implant Centre (SCIC).
The donation came after inmates and staff read about Bowen Mountain two-year-old Rachael Barlow - the daughter of one of their prison officers - in the spring edition of Hawkesbury Extra (free in The Gazette).
Born profoundly deaf, Rachael had received a cochlear implant through the work of the SCIC in June.
Her story so touched them that inmates and staff then raised the money for the not-for-profit organisation through selling chocolates among themselves and to visitors.
Gathered at the Berkshire Park prison for the cheque presentation, Rachael's mother Kathy said watching her daughter now, almost six months after receiving the implant, was amazing.
"She's started to string words together," Kathy said. "She's made great gains and last week she said 'Daddy' for the first time.
"We're still going to the centre every week but we think she'll be discharged in February."
As Governor Floyd Peterson presented the cheque to SCIC's general manager Chris Rehn, he said the prison was "touched" by little Rachel's story.
"Last October we raised $6000 for a local boy who needed a Hart Walker, and we donate a $1000 year for its upkeep," Mr Peterson said. "When we read about Darren and his little girl we were really touched, and so it's on behalf of the inmates and the staff that I present this donation."
Mr Rehn said he was delighted with the donation.
"Usually it's really hard to pick the link between publicity and the donations that come in," Mr Rehn said. "But in this case it was really clear - these inmates read the story and they raised the money.
"I'm delighted with the level of support shown today - most of our donations are under $100 and to have raised this much is a phenomenal act of kindness."
He said the donation would make it possible to give some children the gift of sound.
"It's for children like Rachael that you're doing this."
If you would like to make a donation to the Sydney Cochlear Implant Centre, call 9817 0011.
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