Young athletes bounce back

Rising from the ashes: Doonside Little Athletics participants are all smiles despite a disrupted season. A $1000 McDonald's equipment grant was spent on high jump equipment. Picture: Geoff Jones

Rising from the ashes: Doonside Little Athletics participants are all smiles despite a disrupted season. A $1000 McDonald's equipment grant was spent on high jump equipment. Picture: Geoff Jones

WHEN a fire destroyed almost $65,000 worth of equipment, Doonside Little Athletics Club was left with nothing.

Six months on, the club is on track to rebuild after it made the best it could of a disrupted season.

"It had a big impact as we lost every piece of equipment," championship officer Donna Dhu told the Sun.

"When we got the call about the fire that morning, we had no idea how bad it was until we got there. Everything you could think of was in that shed. Tiny tots' equipment, discuses, shot puts, hurdles, stop watches, starting guns, shovels, dust pans, even medical equipment. It was tough on everybody."

Memorabilia from the club's 38-year history was also destroyed in the fire.

Consisting of 380 youngsters, the club had a few nights at Blacktown International Sportspark before they returned to Charlie Bali Reserve in January.

"We spent a few weeks racing around to get everything we needed," Mrs Dhu said.

"It took a few a weeks and we had to make do with what we got. The kids understood they may have to wait longer to have a turn at an event. They were fantastic."

No one left the club despite the difficult period in the weeks after the fire.

"It was mind-blowing how everyone pulled together," Mrs Dhu said.

"We missed a few training sessions. But everyone had to deal with it and move on. Everyone stuck by us. We got on the job because we were doing it for the kids."

The club is grateful for the financial support received along the way, including $500 from federal Chifley MP Ed Husic, a $1000 McDonald's grant and $2000 donated from car test drives at the club's recent presentation day.

Businesses have also pitched in.

"We wrote to local businesses asking to sponsor $100 per hurdle and we had more than 20 businesses signed up," Mrs Dhu said.

"We now need to buy the hurdle trolleys."

The equipment shed has been rebuilt and keys handed to the club, which looks forward to a fresh start when the 2014-15 season starts in September.

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