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Breast cancer foundation seeks land to build retreat

A foundation which supports people with breast cancer is looking for land to build a retreat in central Victoria.

BRONWYN BEYERS December 6, 2012 4:12am

The Otis Foundation is seeking a generous and unusual donation from a district samaritan who wants to help women with breast cancer.

Inspired by Judy Burley who was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 29, the Otis Foundation has worked tirelessly to realise Judy’s dream of delivering the peace, nurturing and comfort she found in nature to other people living with cancer.

Though Judy lost her battle with cancer, 12 years later the foundation has grown into a network of 14 individual Otis short-term retreats located in Victoria, South Australia and NSW.

The Otis Foundation is now seeking a generous donor who can provide a piece of land in the Heathcote area on which to build a new retreat in the memory of Central Victorian breast cancer victim, Kerri Gray.

The wife of Echuca builder Paul Gray, Kerri was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007 and despite a brave four-year battle, died in March 2011, exactly 11 years to the day that Judy Burley lost her own battle.

After Kerri’s death, Paul Gray approached the Otis Foundation and offered to build a retreat in central Victoria in his wife’s name if the foundation could find the land to build it on.

‘‘To have lived and fought this disease with Kerri, our family knows how much a small getaway can help to forget the day to day stresses of this terrible disease,’’ Mr Gray said.

‘‘So for us to be in a situation to be able to give that feeling to other families and friends with breast cancer is a small thing, after such a big loss.

‘‘For me personally to be able to build this home and have it named after Kerri is very rewarding and a labour of love.

Otis Foundation chairman and founder Andrew Barling said Otis had relied and thrived on the generosity of the central Victorian communities since it began.

‘‘From Judy’s original vision, I understand the significance of the gift that Paul and Kerri have offered to Otis and the ongoing contribution it will make to the lives of those living with breast cancer,’’ he said.

‘‘Now we’re calling for another generous individual to contribute the land, to help Paul and I see this exciting project to fruition.’’

In what will prove to be a significant community project encompassing donations from many local businesses, The Otis Foundation is initially seeking a significant donation in the form of a picturesque piece of countryside on which to build the retreat.

The land should ideally:

be a parcel of land, with title transferred to The Otis Foundation. Donations are tax deductible;

be located up to 45 minutes’ drive to Bendigo;

have a naturally picturesque outlook and be located within a rural setting; and

contain a relatively flat building envelope and ease of access for building and service installation.

Expressions of interest close on December 14.

For information, contact the Otis Foundation on 54441185.

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