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Remembering ‘Bear’: Victorian Open Supports Pancare Foundation

Following the success of the inaugural ‘Purple Day for Pancare’ at the 2018 Victorian Open, the purple ribbon will be back at this year’s event (15-22 November 2019) throughout the Greater Shepparton region to help raise awareness and funds for the Pancare Foundation. The Pancare Foundation is a wonderful organisation and the new Bowls Victoria charity partner supports pancreatic cancer patients and their families, as well as providing funding and research in the treatment of pancreatic cancer.

Pancare Day arrived at the Open with a packed full green of competitors ready to roll off in the Pancare MegaBowl for a set of brand new Purple Taylor Bowls.

It’s an initiative made possible by some inspirational teamwork and the remarkable passion of Chris O’Meagher, more affectionately known as ‘Bear’, who took the opportunity created by his own pancreatic cancer diagnosis in 2017 to promote pancreatic cancer awareness in the bowls community and beyond. Chris was a formidable presence at the Victorian Open and on bowling greens around Australia and the Pacific region. It was his dream to see the purple ribbon on bowls shirts and in bowling clubs throughout Australia. 

“Chris was so passionate to the extent he has all of his family continuing to support the cause, even now just as much as ever, more than 12 months after his passing,” said Chris’ loving parents, Geoff and Filo O’Meagher.

Chris’ absolute selflessness can be summed up in one simple story. “Chris had told a premier league teammate that he was thankful that it was him (Chris) to have this horrible disease,” Geoff and Filo recalled. “When asked why, Chris responded: ‘Because based on statistics, if it wasn’t me, it would be one of my teammates, family or friends and there’s no way I’d want any of them to go through this’.”


The bigger picture

In April 2018, the bowls community supported the family in droves at the inaugural ‘Bear’s Big Day Out’, which was the brainchild of Chris’ brother, Michael. The event was a fundraising day held at St Kilda Bowls Club and Melbourne Bowling Club where bowlers from across Victoria all came along to hear Chris speak about the ‘bigger picture’.

“Chris was always a great competitor on the green, but your best mate, mentor and drinking partner off the green! We hope people embrace the spirit of Bear at this year’s Victorian Open,” said Chris’ brother Michael and sister-in-law, Monika Tifere.

“Chris would’ve been chuffed about this partnership, but he would also be the first to say that it wasn’t about him. Many families have unfortunately been touched by cancer. Many fellow bowlers have been diagnosed with cancer. Unfortunately, many have been lost along the way,” they added.

“But raising awareness of pancreatic cancer and the great work that the Pancare Foundation do to support patients and their families is the ‘bigger picture’ that we, Chris’ loved ones, strive for. Every conversation or action we have about Pancare, the purple ribbon symbol and pancreatic cancer is our way of honouring our son, brother, friend and loved one that led the way.”

Purple Day for Pancare

In honour of Chris, the Purple Day for Pancare will once again be a significant part of the Victorian Open, with merchandise also available at Shepparton Park Bowls Club throughout the tournament.

“We are looking forward to a ‘sea of purple on the green’, to acknowledge Purple Day for Pancare on Tuesday 19 November at the Victorian Open,” said Sarah Collings, Community Fundraising Manager at the Pancare Foundation. “Come down to Shepparton Park dressed in your purple shoe laces, socks, caps and face paint! It’s a day to come together as the bowls community to raise awareness and vital funds for those affected by pancreatic cancer.”

Get involved

“We encourage all attending the Victorian Open to wear a splash of purple across the entire event to show their support. Better yet, come down to the Pancare merchandise stall located at Shepparton Park to purchase a purple ribbon or a new bowls approved Pancare polo shirt or cap,” Collings said. “You may also like to make a donation which will make a life-changing difference to those affected by pancreatic cancer.”

For donations and further information, visit the Pancare Foundation website

Kalon Huett – Briefcase Media.



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