Meet your local hero finalists

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Meet your local hero finalists

Read about your Westfield Local Hero finalists

Westfield Local Heroes is a community recognition and grants program, connecting and enriching local communities.

Westfield Local Heroes are nominated and voted for by their communities, with the outcome of the public vote determining the three successful 2019 nominees for Westfield Woden. Each of the affiliated organisations for the successful three heroes will be awarded a $10,000 grant to support their work to thrive. In total, Westfield will be awarding 120 grants across Australia and New Zealand – totalling $1.2 million.

Your Westfield Local Heroes will be announced here on 1 October

Your six finalists for Westfield Woden are:

Carey Russell

Children's Tumour Foundation
Bold . Steadfast . Selfless

Carey Russell jumped in to help people with neurofibromatosis after she was diagnosed with the genetic disorder that leads to disfiguring tumours. She has become the primary ACT representative for the Children’s Tumour Foundation, which supports people with the condition and funds research into a cure. As a volunteer, Carey manages fundraising events, supports families online or by phone and has rallied businesses and politicians to increase awareness. “Tumours should never be anyone’s normal,” says Carey, who promotes inclusivity by showing the community how to celebrate difference and rise above one’s circumstances.

Westfield Local Heroes are nominated and voted for by their communities, with the three top finalists per Westfield centre each awarded a $10,000 grant for their affiliated organisation. If Carey is successful, the Children’s Tumour Foundation will use the funds for its annual family camps which help children with neurofibromatosis and their families feel less stressed and isolated.


Kristen Pratt

Capital Nordic Walking
Pioneer . Dynamic . Altruistic

Kristen Pratt is on a mission to get people of all ages to improve their health while having fun. She founded Capital Nordic Walking to share her passion for Nordic fitness walking, which involves walking poles and specialised techniques. Kristen has arranged free walks for over 1000 Canberrans, including those with serious illnesses and the frail elderly. The comradery gives people the motivation to make exercise a habit, reduce stress and their risk of chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease, she says. “We see the life-changing benefits of Nordic walking every day.”

Westfield Local Heroes are nominated and voted for by their communities, with the three top finalists per Westfield centre each awarded a $10,000 grant for their affiliated organisation. If Kristen is successful, Capital Nordic Walking will use the funds to cover the cost of developing a much-needed volunteer network, including training, insurance and equipment.


Kristine Hewett

Philanthropize
Selfless . Compassionate . Generous

Kristine Hewett is working to fill a gap in support for domestic violence and abuse (DVA) survivors. Aware there are many prevention and crisis support services but little in the way of ongoing support, she and her business partner set up. Adamas Nexus, a monthly self-help support group for women after they have passed the crisis period. “Now we want to expand to help more women throughout Canberra and Australia,” Kristine says.

Westfield Local Heroes are nominated and voted for by their communities, with the three top finalists per Westfield centre each awarded a $10,000 grant for their affiliated organisation. If Kristine is successful, Philanthropize will use the funds to expand Adamas Nexus from one meeting per month to six.


Robert de Castella

Indigenous Marathon Foundation
Passionate . Inspirational . Determined

Marathon great Robert de Castella is proud of his sporting feats but says his greatest achievement has been helping Indigenous Australians. The Commonwealth Games marathon champion and Olympian founded and directs the Indigenous Marathon Foundation. Through its Indigenous Marathon Project (IMP) and Deadly Running Groups, which include over 5000 runners, the foundation promotes running for a healthy lifestyle. “Indigenous Australians are significantly disadvantaged compared with other Australians, highlighted by an approximate 10-year gap in life expectancy, lower education levels, unemployment and chronic disease,” says Robert, who was Australian of the year in 1983.

Westfield Local Heroes are nominated and voted for by their communities, with the three top finalists per Westfield centre each awarded a $10,000 grant for their affiliated organisation. If Robert is successful, the Indigenous Marathon Foundation will host a three-day coaching workshop for IMP graduates and run leaders.


Sandy Van Der Toorn

Woden Community Service
Selfless . Dedicated . Kind

Sandra Van Der Toorn goes above and beyond to help isolated, elderly people make new friends. She uses her own car to pick up people, so they don’t miss out on activities she organises in her role as a social group coordinator for Woden Community Service. She utilizes resources that aren't covered by funding, and, often prepares treats, cakes and salads for clients and visits them in the nursing home with her beautiful therapy dog, Honey, by her side. “We see such lovely results with our group activities, people laughing and dancing and improving their fitness and mobility,” Sandy says.

Westfield Local Heroes are nominated and voted for by their communities, with the three top finalists per Westfield centre each awarded a $10,000 grant for their affiliated organisation. If Sandy is successful, Woden Community Service will be able to provide more support to the most marginalised group members, including special outings, meals or even a short break away from home.


Thomas Campagna

PARTY Program
Strong . Brave . Resilient

After surviving a terrible car crash caused by a drug-affected driver, teenager Thomas TJ Campagna wants to keep other young people safe on our roads. TJ shares his story with other young people through the PARTY Program, a charity that helps school students understand the consequences of driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol. The talks are held at Canberra Hospital, where doctors, nurses and trauma patients help educate the students.“My mum shares my story on my behalf,” says TJ, who has raised $10,000 for the hospital and PARTY Program through a fund-raiser dinner.

Westfield Local Heroes are nominated and voted for by their communities, with the three top finalists per Westfield centre each awarded a $10,000 grant for their affiliated organisation. If TJ is successful, the PARTY Program will be able to provide more education sessions.


Recognising all our 2019 nominees

View all of the nominees and their organisation

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