Ride of their life

Written by Kerrie Alexander

Whether you call them clangers, clunkers, rust buckets or simply just dungas … hundreds of Fraser Coast residents get behind the wheel of their beloved rattly rally cars every year for one exceptionally good reason!

The Dunga Derby is run every year to support local families and individuals with life-limiting medical conditions or those who need help from a situation beyond their control.

Under the umbrella of the Rally for a Cause charity, those Dunga Derby teams raised a record $260,000 last year and a massive $1.3 million since its inception in 2015.

That money has since provided support to over 100 local Fraser Coast families in their times of crisis.

Each month, Alive Magazine is excited to announce that we will publish a Dunga Derby column with a focus on the families who have been recipients of this vital support.

Those who have thrown a dollar in a dunga tin, attended events or even sponsored a car, will read about the incredible difference those life-changing donations have made to the recipients.

Here’s Connie’s story:

Ben and Gemma Lightbody received results that no parent should ever have to bear.

At 24 weeks pregnant and excited for their 20-week scan, the Fraser Coast couple received the heartbreaking news that their little girl would be born with a rare and complex heart condition.
Connie was born in May 2020 and has been fighting for her life ever since.

In her short seven months of life, the little battler has undergone two open heart surgeries and had a cardiac catheter put in.

Connie had trouble keeping food down, so she ended up with an NG tube at just six weeks old.
She developed a milk protein allergy and at around 10 weeks old, she started to have slight heart failure and needed diuretics to help her move fluid.

They then had to try and get her to gain weight so she could have surgery.

Connie’s first surgery was at five months old and another one only 10 days later due to other complications.

Connie’s cardiac catheter was done at four months of age to get a better idea on how her heart was working.

Mum, Gemma has been battling bowel disease for five years and the extra stress from having to go through birth and all the unknowns took a massive toll on her disease causing her to have her large intestines out after becoming ill.

That left dad, Ben, trying to balance between work, his wife and daughter and Connie’s older brother Reuben.

Ben had to take considerable time off work and Reuben had to spend time being looked after while his Dad was away supporting the rest of the family.

Rally for a Cause were able to provide Connie’s family with some short-term financial relief, which allowed them some peace of mind.

The family was able to stay together and not have to worry about whether the bills were getting paid.
“It was really amazing,” Connie said.

“We got to keep our family together through a really difficult time.

“We used the money to pay the mortgage, so we had one less stress, and we also got some food vouchers.

“We just want to say a massive thank you,” Ben said.

“It’s amazing what Rally for a Cause does for families in the community.”

Connie is doing well now and has just celebrated her first birthday with a smash cake and a special visit from the Katastrophy Wives Dunga Derby team.

She will have to have another surgery in a few years but for now she is just like any other one-year-old.

Recipients need to be nominated and then their situation is assessed by the committee and funds, services or help as required is organised.

The teams are now into the thick of their fundraising for the 7th annual Dunga Derby, which will be held from July 29 to August 1.

Follow all their fundraising events on the Dunga Derby by Rally for a Cause Facebook page or visit rallyforacause.org.au to donate.


When: June 5. Doors open at 5.30pm for a 6.30pm start.
Where: Hervey Bay RSL
What: Calling all trivia geniuses! The team at the Hervey Bay RSL will host a Pop Trivia night to raise funds for car#888. There will be prizes on offer for best themed table and best dressed individual.
Cost: You can book tables of 6 for $120 at RSL Hervey Bay reception.

When: Saturday, June 19. Doors open at 11.30am for a 1pm start.
Where: Memorial Hall, Adelaide St, Maryborough
What: If you like bingo, then you will love a tombola. Come along and support car #27 The Woody’s. There will be hundreds of prizes to choose from. Light refreshments will be served at half time.
Cost: Email willjenny05@gmail.com for more information.