Netballathon raises money for youngster

Hundreds of Southlanders rallied together for the 12-hour Netballathon at ILT Stadium Southland yesterday in support of a young community member recovering from major surgery overseas.

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

The Bluff youngster has been in Barcelona, Spain, for the past month recovering from a life-altering operation for idiopathic scoliosis,

a condition characterised by abnormal curvature of the spine. It can cause back pain and 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?''

 Evie Lester (9), of Invercargill, gets stuck in to a game on the public court at the 12-hour...
Evie Lester (9), of Invercargill, gets stuck in to a game on the public court at the 12-hour Netballathon yesterday, held at ILT Stadium Southland in Invercargill. PHOTO: ABBEY PALMER
Coach Karen Skerrett along with Vanessa Sherriff, a mother of one of the players, spent months with the team organising yesterday's event.

``We've had several messages from the family today. They've been livestreaming us and she's [Darnae] doing really well,'' Mrs Skerrett said.

Mrs Sherriff said the family was "totally humbled'' by the community's efforts - "they just love everybody here''.

Darnae's scoliosis had been "too severe'' to operate on in New Zealand, so she and her family travelled to Spain last month for the almost $86,000 surgery.

Extended family from Dunedin, Alexandra, and Invercargill also attended the Netballathon.

A family representative 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, which was great they came out here and played and they really enjoyed themselves,'' she said.

Mrs Skerrett thanked ILT Stadium Southland, which supplied the courts for free, as well as Netball South, the Invercargill Netball Centre, Invercargill Young Professionals, Made to Move, the ILT, H.W. Richardson Group and the event organisers.

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