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Author: Craig Eardley

Illawarra Wishing Wall launched at KidzWish Ball with granting of first wish

The Greater Building Society announced at this year’s KidzWish Charity Ball (November 21) that it will be a major supporter of a new Greater/KidzWish Wall of Wishes at Stockland Shellharbour by granting a surprise wish to a young Illawarra man.

Local Greater Building Society branch manager Gary Luck surprised Frank Dushimirimana with a custom sports wheelchair to help him realise his dream of playing elite wheelchair basketball and representing his new country. The chair was accepted on the night by Frank's father, Innocent, as Frank was away due to his sporting commitments.

Mr Luck said The Greater is providing $25,000 to help KidzWish grant a wish to 10 Illawarra kids with special needs as well as contributing to the cost of constructing a new wall at the shopping centre. He said the community will be encouraged to make a donation at any of The Greater’s Illawarra branches or at Stockland Shellharbour’s customer service desk to allow more wishes to be granted to local kids.

“The Greater is giving to very worthy Illawarra kids and families who need a helping hand to make their life better or to achieve things other people have said aren’t possible,” Mr Luck said.

“As a customer owned banking organisation we exist to support customers and the local community,” he said.

“We hope other Illawarra businesses and people will join us in helping to make special local kids’ wishes come true.”

Frank is 16 years old, lives in Koonawarra and attends Illawarra Christian School. Born without legs, Frank spent the majority of his life in a refugee camp in Rwanda confined to a wheelchair. In 2007 Frank, his two sisters and parents were granted refugee status in Australia. Thanks to KidzWish, Frank received prosthetic legs, enabling him to walk for the first time in his life in 2009. Frank started off playing Wheelchair Basketball at the KidzWish Sports Academy. He then moved to weekly training with the National Wheelchair Basketball League Team, the Roller Hawks. He has also been selected in the NSW Junior Squad. The National Coach of “The Aussie Rollers” Ben Ettridge has identified Frank as having potential to become a national player and a Paralympian. Frank’s chair speed, ability to change direction and his balance for shooting is considerably impacted by not having a custom chair. His current chair is not even suited to a double amputee.

The wall is expected to be constructed in the new year.

The sold out KidzWish Charity Ball was held at the WIN Entertainment Centre. It was hosted by Channel 7 personalities Chris Bath and Jim Wilson and featured entertainment by X Factor winner Dami Im, Johnny Spitz and the Geoff Harvey Big Band.

The Greater has been a long time supporter of KidzWish. The Charitable Foundation also funded the establishment of the the charity’s Australian fist KidzSpeak mobile speech therapy service to provide mobile speech therapy services to preschool children in the Illawarra.

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