Western Suburbs Touch Association hosted a gala dinner to launch their Vawdon Cup season and raise money for the Westmead Children’s hospital on Saturday 27 July 2007 at the Massey Park Golf Club, Concord.Respected sports author, Sydney premiership winning Rugby Coach, and Rugby’s ‘unofficial poet laureate’ Peter ‘Fab’ Fenton was the Master of Ceremonies and special guest speaker at the black tie event.Rugby League superstar and former Wests “old boy” Benji Marshall, and Wests Tigers Rugby League gun Bronson Harrison joined the Sydney TAB Swift’s triple Commonwealth Bank Trophy winning netball coach Julie Fitzgerald, and star players Jackie Murphy and Chelsea Pitman in attending the dinner that raised over $ 20,000 for the Westmead Children’s hospital.Guest speakers included the irrepressible Fenton, Lebanon World Cup Assistant Coach Paul Sfeir, Australian Men’s 30s Assistant Coach Emmanuel “Budgie” Bughiar, and the “blackest of the black cats,” Australian Mixed Open skipper Tony Eltakchi.A sports memorabilia auction was held with items such as signed Australian, NSW, and club Rugby League jerseys, signed cricket bats by Australian Cricket Captains and World cricketing legends, Sydney TAB Swifts items, and a plethora of memorabilia from across the sporting spectrum went under the hammer to raise funds for the most worthy of causes.The big hearted Magpies had resolved to do something special this Vawdon Cup season to honour the memory of 2006 Wests Clubman of the Year Matthew Essey, who sadly passed away in May 2007 after waging a brave three year fight against cancer.Matthew’s passion for his family, friends, Touch Football, and the Magpies was matched only by his generosity of spirit towards others.Despite the debilitating nature of Matthew’s illness, the popular Lebanon, Mets, and Wests Manager maintained his positive outlook and iron will commitment to making a difference.In failing health, Matthew organized a charity fundraiser for the Millennium Foundation that raises funds for Cancer research and the Westmead Hospital.Sadly, Matthew passed away before seeing his fund raising efforts bare fruit, but the evening was a spectacular success, a sell out in fact, with a huge amount of money being raised to ensure the good fight against the insidious condition would continue in the future.West’s stalwart Emmanuel “Budgie” Bughiar, who has been at the Magpies club since 1981 said that the Millennium Foundation Dinner which was attended by many of the Wests players was a motivating factor in deciding upon a direction for the Magpies 2007 Fundraising efforts.“We were all saddened by Matthew’s passing…there is no doubt it’s had a profound effect upon our club. The endless work he did to try to raise money to fight for other people to have a better life was inspiring and humbling to the rest of us. Matthew’s work needed to be continued. He gave so much to us and we really wanted to honour him and pay him the highest level of respect possible by going on with the job for him. We were stoked that the night went off so well, it was a very special evening and showed the spirit and strength of character of our club members. Everyone was there, and I reckon Matthew would have been so proud of it all,” Bughiar said. The fundraising dinner was also the launch for the Western Suburbs 2007 Vawdon Cup season with the announcement of the Premier League Teams in Men’s and Women’s divisions.The Wests Men’s Premier League Team’s 2007 jerseys proudly display on one sleeve a list of club champions, and on the other sleeve, a poignant reminder of their treasured mate Matthew.“Matthew Essey” is etched on the sleeve as a mark of respect and a source of constant inspiration for the Magpies, who have dedicated this season to Matt’s memory. New South Wales Touch Association President, Mr. John Howard and the entire Wests Magpies club community – players, officials, coaches, and supporters, showed their commitment and respect for the values that were at the core of Matt Essey’s existence by attending the event in droves. Inspired by Matthew’s endless acts of generosity and initiatives, Western Suburbs have instigated the Annual Fundraiser for the Westmead Children’s Hospital to coincide with their Vawdon Cup Launch.Each year, the club will select a high priority treatment item to raise funds for then donate to the hospital.In 2007 the club will purchase two Corometrics Monitors (approximately $9,000 each). These specialist monitors alert parents and carers when an infant stops breathing.The fetal monitor also records heart rate and oxygen levels that are vital in the early detection of distress in infants. The machines have the capability of transferring data to a specialist via the Internet, or a telephone line for real time care. Westmead Children’s Hospital had requested nine of these units at the beginning of the year, and until last week, had none. Thanks to the inspiring life example and lasting memory of a cherished friend, and the commitment of a close knit Touch Association, Westmead Children’s hospital now have two of the life saving devices on the way.9-0 is a daunting challenge in anyone’s language!That is, to anyone except the Wests Magpies club.You can just see “Sfeiry”, “Budgie”, “Stanto”, “Rushy”, and the boys doing the math… like in a tough game with their backs to the wall… two monitors down, seven to go, pegging back the deficit, play by play, until their heart, courage, refusal to go quietly, and passionate commitment to the cause wins out… conceding defeat is never an option.In the Magpies, Westmead Children’s Hospital couldn’t have a better group of people fighting the good fight on their behalf…Wests, the 2006 State Cup champions in the Men’s Open division, have begun the 2007 Vawdon Cup in fine style with two wins from two starts. Sure the guys can’t find their water bottles, the sub box is a mess, and Sfeiry is getting a little more agitated with the referees than he used to when he had Matt’s wise counsel on the sidelines, but the boys are sticking together, playing well, and with Matt’s name in clear view, they are digging deeper and literally wearing their hearts on their sleeves.There is little doubt that Matthew Essey, watching down from his vantage point in heaven would be well pleased with the start his beloved Magpies have made.What would make Matthew Essey even prouder though, is the fantastic spirit, selflessness, commitment, and generosity his club mates have shown in picking up the ball and going forward hard to continue the work that underpinned his life.If you would like to contribute to Wests 2007 Fundraising efforts for the Westmead Children’s Hospital, please contact Emmanuel Bughiar on 0418694318 for further details.