By midnight, $16,846,396 had been raised by the Good Friday Appeal, beating last year’s record tally of $16.4 million.
Patients emerged from wards in wheelchairs as the Royal Children’s Hospital’s Main Street area became a bustling backdrop for live TV crosses and selfies with celebrities.
And bedside visits were made by the Easter Bunny, netball, cricket, soccer and AFL players, celebrity chefs Manu Feildel and George Calombaris, and the casts from Home and Away and My Kitchen Rules.
Nine-foot-tall Lego men were a big hit, as were Customs puppies.
Dannii Minogue heard a performance by a patient in a mental health ward, then posed for photos with 16-year-old Jade Kollmorgen, in for cystic fibrosis treatment.
“I’ve been in here with my son once and everybody was amazing,” Minogue said.
“I think it’s just incredible… to see how things have grown with everyone’s donations.”
Dannii Minogue caught up with Pakenham’s Jade Kollmorgen in the Kelpie Ward.
Metropolitan Window Cleaning’s Blake Dawson and Matthew Drape transformed themselves into Spider-Man and Batman to abseil down walls.
Lachlan Fry, 5, in hospital for an infected broken arm, was already in Batman tracksuit pants and T-shirt, and couldn’t resist the chance to get a photo with the superheroes before going home for Easter.
“He loves the hospital. It’s like a little hotel for kids,” said mum Kym.
“They go to so much effort to make it not a scary place.”
Batman (Blake Dawson) and Spiderman (Matthew Drape) from metropolitan Window Cleaning drop in to say hello to Lucie, 4, Max and Charlie Thompson, both 7, at the RCH. Picture: Jay Town Source: News Corp Australia
Celebrities and sports stars rocked the stage, pitching in to entertain an excited crowd as the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre was transformed into a children’s wonderland for the Good Friday Appeal.
But the real focus was on kids like Stawell’s Amarina Richards, whose family were at the event to take their minds off eight years of hospital visits.
Mum Janet Aisbett said her daughter, who was born with a permanently bent leg, would not have survived without the help of the staff at the Royal Children’s Hospital. Stawell youngster Amarina Richards attended the telethon with her family at the MCEC. Picture: Alex Coppel Source: News Corp Australia
“She’s been in and out of the hospital since she was 48 hours old. She had to be resuscitated twice; they actually gave her an hour to live, and now here she is, nearly 9,” Ms Aisbett said.
Darren and Sue Morgan, from Nathalia, brought their four boys down to show their support for the Appeal after their son, Dylan, needed tests at RCH for his allergies.
“It’s hard to put into words, how much it (the hospital) means to us,” Mr Morgan said.
The phones were ringing hot in the telethon room, as donors helped the Appeal hit the million-dollar mark before lunchtime.
Premier Denis Napthine recalled how he had been reassured by the hospital’s experts when his son had needed treatment for chronic asthma.
“Nearly everyone who talks to us on the phone has a personal story. I think everybody is touched by the Children’s Hospital,” he said.
Premier Denis Napthine joins volunteers Claire Clarke, Jennifer Farrugia and Karen Weaver on the phones. Picture: Alex Coppel Source: News Corp Australia
Winners and Losers star Damien Bodie, who was briefly admitted to hospital when he was 10, said the Appeal was the biggest day of the year for Victorians.
“This isn’t just about the sick kids now, this is about sick kids of the future,” he said. Bacchus Marsh’s Karen Weaver said she had