Gavan Dowling is a well-known and respected name in the Yarrawonga and Mulwala area and his passing from Myeloma disease in August of this year devastated the wider community.
Nephew Xave Dowling, niece Jessica Purtle along with Gav’s 14 other nieces and nephews decided after their uncle’s death that something needed to be done to help other families dealing with a Myeloma diagnosis and to do something in honour of Gav’s memory.
Together they became the masterminds of a fundraiser to raise awareness and money for a disease that is not known by many but felt by numerous.
The Myetrim for Myeloma foundation started by Xave and Jess has so far held several fundraising events including a Bunnings barbeque and tin rattling with raffles and movie nights still to come before the end of November.
When the idea first began $500 was the target goal to later be donated to the Myeloma Australia foundation.
In just the first three weeks of fundraising the total goal has since continued to rise as each goal has been smashed through donations from the community.
The target of $2000 was met in the first ten days of fundraising which then had to be raised to $5000 which has also since been broken.
The new target now stands at $10,000 with three weeks still to go before the Myetrim for Myeloma family night.
Nephew Xave and niece Jess spoke of what Gav was like, not just as a man, but an uncle to them and how he has had a profound effect on their lives.
“He just had so much time for all of us. He came and watched us play footy or netball, called in and had a chat and a beer,” Xave said.
“He just had a lot of time for a lot of people.”
Jess agreed wholeheartedly and said he was more than just an uncle but it was hard to explain exactly the man that he was.
“What can we say about Gav really. He was our family’s son, brother and uncle but more importantly he was Gav,” Jess said.
“He was just a tremendous person and all of us nieces and nephews of his grew up with him doting on all of us.”
Gav didn’t have children of his own which is why he was so close to his nieces and nephews and they were like his children.
“We were closer than nieces and nephews to him and for me he was like a second dad, we shared a pretty special bond,” Xave said.
“He was just always there for us, he took us to the movies, camping, the Deni Ute Muster, Henty Field Days and we were always there with him too,” Jess said.
Jess also reminisces on what Gav was like when his nieces and nephews were younger and how he used to tease them in the most uncle like way.
“At Christmas there was always a present for each niece and nephew; all 16 of us sitting under the tree,” Jess said.
“We always had to wait until lunch was finished before the present unwrapping could begin and Gav would always be the last to finish and would eat his meal pea by pea to torment us.”
In the middle of 2015 Gav was unfortunately diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma.
Throughout his fight he stayed positive and was adamant he wasn’t going to let the disease beat him.
“The harvest of 2015 was the hardest and Gav had been going through various treatments,” Jess said. “He and the family were blown away by the local farming community.
“So many people rolled up their sleeves and headed out to “The Farm” to get the harvest done so that it was one less worry for Gav and the family to deal with.”
Throughout Gav’s fight he and the family were amazed by the support that was shown through organizations such as Friends In Common but also by everyday people and further friends and family.
Still to this day businesses in Yarrawonga have got behind the family, currently helping out by donating goods or money to the Myetrim foundation and Xave and Jess both said they have been so humbled by the acts.
“I’m so humbled by all the community support. I knew Gav was a popular bloke and really well respected but the support people are showing isn’t surprising but humbling,” Xave said.
Due to the man that Gav was, the Dowling family and many of Gav’s mates felt they needed to hold a family night to raise much needed awareness and funds of a disease that took Gav too early.
“That’s why we want to do something about it, he would have been the first person if it was one of us to be right behind it,” Xave said.
“He was just awesome and was just everyone’s favourite bloke.”
The Myetrim for Myeloma Family night will be held at the Royal Mail Hotel in Mulwala on Sunday, November 26 starting at 3pm.
The night will boast a goods and services auction, live music, kids entertainment and the shaving of heads and moustaches.
Great mate of Gav, Mick Quinn was one of the first to get right behind the cause stepping up to have his head shaved and helping to raise money where and however he can.
Mick heard on the grapevine about Xave and Jess organising the event and wanted to join the cause in memory of his great mate of many years in any way that he could.
“Let’s do something for him, he would have been the first to do it for us,” Mick said.
Many members and in-laws of the Dowling family, Gav’s mates and friends of Dowling family members will also be shaving their heads or moustaches on the night.
“Having Gav in our lives was such a blessing and our family is still struggling with the loss but we don’t want to let Myeloma win,” Jess said.
“We don’t want our beautiful uncle’s death to be in vain so we are taking the opportunity to do something positive. To give back.”
“He was more than just an uncle, he was a hero,” Xave said.
“It’s just our way of doing something for him and to remember him.”
To donate to the Myeloma foundation in Gav’s memory visit https://give.everydayhero.com/au/myetrim , go to the MyeTrim for Myeloma page on Facebook to find out how to get involved and be sure to be at the Royal Mail Hotel on November 26 to see many heads shaved and goods auctioned for a great cause.