By Melissa Sheil
ARTIST Joanne Colely is saddling up for her unicorn painting fundraising event in honour of the late Milli Lucas in Wattle Grove next weekend.
Milli first entered Australia’s hearts in 2016 through her battle with a vicious form of brain cancer.
Through crowdfunding efforts, her family were able to employ top neurosurgeon Dr Charlie Teo in 2019 to remove most of the tumour.
Despite the successful operation, the tumour returned late last year.
She passed away on January 4, 2021 at the age of 14.
Ms Colely understands Milli’s family have suffered greatly from the loss and hopes to ease the financial burden of medical bills, funeral costs and other constraints with the money raised from the event.
“Having girls of my own I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to go through what they did,” she said.
“I knew I wanted to help somehow and art is what I do best.
“Every cent of the money coming in will go to Team Millstar.”
Ms Colely first came into contact with the Lucas family after a mutual friend introduced them, later painting a portrait of Milli and her sister Tess which is now to be used as the cover for Milli’s mother’s book.
Unfortunately, many of Milli’s family members have also been diagnosed with cancer, due to a rare hereditary affliction called Li-Fraumeni syndrome that increases cancer predisposition.
“They are such a humble and giving family and I really felt a special connection when meeting them,” she said.
“I had the opportunity to paint Milli and I managed to get her approval on the concept design which was really special.”
Ms Colely’s fundraiser will include a tutorial where ticket-holders learn how to paint horses – an animal Milli was particularly fond of.
Shetland ponies Princess Poppy and Sunny Sparkles will be dressed as unicorns, fitted with horns, sparkly feather boas and colourful hair extensions.
Donations have come rolling in alongside sponsors, with Mane Espresso coffee van offering hot beverages, Jacksons Art Supplies contributing painting materials, Tricia Andrews from Pony Magic supplying the grounds and the ponies, a cupcake sale and one generous individual donating $1200.
“The generosity is incredible, we’ve got people coming down from Yanchep, York, Bunbury and Rockingham just to contribute a buck or two,” Ms Colely said.
“Even if you can’t come to the event or afford the ticket, any contribution will help this beautiful family.”
The event will be at 8.30am Sunday, March 28 at 16 Crystal Brook Road, Wattle Grove.
Contact Jo at 0449 880 199 to book or learn more about her other charity work at www.joannecolelyart.com