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A fundraiser established by the mother of three-year-old Charlie Stevens, who died from acute myeloid leukemia (AML) in Adelaide, has raised more than $55,000 for cancer research in just 28 days.

The Charlie’s Rainbow Move Challenge invited participants to undertake their own physical tests throughout February to raise money for pediatric cancer research at the University of South Australia.

Some committed to major feats, including Adrian Isbill, who raised more than $19,600 by running, riding and rowing 512 kilometers — the distance he transports his son, George, from Broken Hill to Adelaide for chemotherapy.

Others learned how to do handstands, twirl hula hoops with their feet while upside down, or did more sit-ups, squats, or push-ups than they had ever done before.

“It was totally different to what my original vision for it was, but everyone was choosing something that did it for them,” Charlie’s mother, Kelly Stevens, said.

“Everyone would either do their own workouts, or their own running or riding, or whatever they chose to do, and we would all post it on this [social media] page.


A ‘stone’ that’s always there

Charlie started getting sick at 12 months with a snotty nose and watery eyes, something that Ms Stevens and her husband, Michael, didn’t consider abnormal for a child of that age at first.

But three months later he developed a small lesion on one eye.

Kelly Stevens accompanied Charlie to Melbourne for a bone marrow transplant in late 2020.(Facebook: Charlie’s Rainbow — funding Paediatric AML Research)

Scans and tests revealed he had AML, a cancer that affects the blood and bone marrow.

It led to 18 months of intense treatment that had medical staff at times fearing the worst, despite Charlie making them his friends and “playing and laughing” throughout the gruelling process.

In January 2020 and with treatment complete, Charlie’s cancer went into remission.

But six months later he relapsed, with the cancer having moved from Charlie’s bone marrow into his spinal fluid.

The family relocated to Victoria for bone marrow transplants, having to leave Charlie’s older brother at home with his grandparents due to COVID-19 restrictions.


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