Gilli Barnard – our very own superhero!
It’s true that not all heroes wear capes. Some ride a scooter decked out in Kiss Goodbye to MS gear like Gilli Barnard from Tassie! 🦸🏻♀️ 💪
If you’re not familiar with Gilli, then get ready to be amazed. Gilli has been supporting MS Research Australia since its inception over 16 years ago and started fundraising for Kiss Goodbye to MS back in 2012, which officially makes her one of our longest standing fundraisers and supporters for MS research in our history – a real life legend!
While you pick your jaw up off the ground, let us tell you a little more about our very own Kiss Goodbye to MS superhero who puts all her love, time and effort into raising funds for life-changing MS research every single year.
Born in England in 1947, Gilli moved to Australia in 1966 at the age of only 19 years old. She travelled across Australia and stayed in Darwin for a while before returning to the UK. It was during her time in Darwin, where Gilli experienced her first MS symptoms with her foot dragging at times and Gilli experiencing a hot sensation in her hands. Her doctor at the time however did not take her symptoms seriously and sent her home.
In the early 1970’s, Gilli experienced a new bout of symptoms where parts of her body would go numb, but again, no reason or investigation was offered. After travelling back-and-forth between the UK and Canberra, Gilli found herself back in Darwin in November 1975.
Fast forward to 1980, a big year for Gilli – she gave birth to her son, however also started to experience vision problems and in the same year was officially diagnosed with MS based on an old scan which was taken years earlier. By then, Gilli had already put it together herself, however receiving the official diagnosis gave some relief as everything finally started to make sense.
Never one to lick her wounds, Gilli got on with life and started volunteering for the MS Society at the Northern Territory office, shortly followed by a part-time role. Part of her role was to travel up and down the Stuart Highway collecting cash donations from the collection boxes dotted at various outlets, which is when Gilli realised that she had the tenacity it takes to fundraise on behalf of people with MS. Her passion for fundraising was born… 😍
In 2000, Gilli made one final move down to Tasmania for the cooler climate and has lived there ever since. This is also where she first started to fundraise for MS Research Australia’s community fundraising campaign F5m+, and since been riding her scooter across Hobart to raise funds for Kiss Goodbye to MS.
You’ll typically find Gilli around the Salamanca Markets or Cruise Terminal in Hobart, however with the cruise industry being highly impacted by COVID-19 and no passenger arrivals, fundraising has been challenging this year. But, she’s a superhero after all, so not even a global pandemic can stop our Gilli! She is still out and about three to four times a week raising vital awareness and funds for life-changing MS research…if that’s not dedication, then we don’t know what is!
“There are people with MS who are not able to do what I do. I may not be able to walk very well but otherwise I can fundraise with no trouble…!”
Gilli’s passion for MS research lies behind wanting to see a cure in her lifetime, not just because of her own diagnosis but for the 25,600 Australians living with MS who are forced to live with the uncertainty that comes with MS every day.
Just this year alone, Gilli has already raised over $4,078 for MS research so far, and her consistent and tireless support over the years has resulted in her raising a gob smacking $52,807.05 for world-class MS research since she first engaged with MS Research Australia – an absolutely outstanding effort and Gilli certainly has no plans to stop! 😲
“I want to keep fundraising for MS research as long as I am able.”
So what are Gilli’s fundraising super powers?
“I have plenty of signage around me when I am out. I always wear a Kiss Goodbye to MS t-shirt and hat. I am not afraid to talk to people about MS and I meet a lot of people who like to talk about MS or ask questions. I usually always pick the same spot so people have got to know me.”
It goes without saying that Gilli is the definition of Kiss Goodbye to MS.
Gilli, you should be so proud of yourself! You will forever have a special place in our hearts and we are beyond grateful for your commitment to changing the future lives for people living with MS.
Thank you for being an integral part of our Kiss Goodbye to MS family. Your unwavering dedication motivates us to strive even harder to Kiss Goodbye to MS.❤️ THANK YOU for dedicating your life to help fund MS research into the prevention, better treatments and a cure for MS – you truly are one of a kind!
If you live around Hobart or plan to visit when the boarders open again, it’s very likely you will see Gilli scooting around so don’t forget to say hi and have a chat! How often do you get the opportunity to talk to a real-life superhero? 😏
Excited to fundraise yourself? Register here today or get in touch with us at [email protected] or 1300 785 717 to explore a fundraising idea that’s tailored to you. We are here to help you in any way we can!