Tough call as pandemic bunkers 28th Elly Stig Memorial Golf Day

For nearly three decades Nambucca Heads legend Ray Stig has worked tirelessly to honour the name of his granddaughter, Elly, lost to childhood cancer at an inconceivably young age.

The annual Elly Stig Memorial Golf Day and auction has become a New Year's rite of passage for a growing number of diehards - the fundraising event garnering $419,000 over the years for the Children's Cancer Institute.

"Gawd that's a lot of money" says Ray who thinks he just might consider hanging up his gloves the day that amount tips over to half a million.

"But when you go down and see some of those kids in that bloody cancer ward - you'd cut off your right arm to help them, they're that special," Ray said, welling up at the memories.

"Maybe before I am pushing up those mighty red and green flowers we'll find a cure for cancer," he said in a nod to his beloved South Sydney Rabbitohs.

Unfortunately, that noble fundraising goal has necessarily been put on ice ... at least for another 12 months.

The long arm of COVID has reached further than we were ever prepared for. And Ray said he couldn't in good conscience hold this year's event with the pall of the pandemic still hanging over the country.

"Twenty-eight years it would have been next January. But common sense prevailed," he said.

The day means a lot to the Nambucca Heads Golf Club too, and Ray said they tried their hardest to accommodate the event, while staying true to all the necessary precautions.

But Ray wouldn't have it.

"The day attracts people from all over. We have people coming from Sydney, Newcastle, the Gold Coast, further north of Brisbane," he said.

Everything's good up here and has been for so long - I'd hate to be responsible for it all kicking off again. I'd never forgive myself for the rest of my life.

"I was looking forward to this 28th one, but it'll come."

Ray now plans to devote all his time to making the next Elly Stig Memorial Golf Day the biggest one yet. And the date's already set for January 2, 2022.

And he's determined to keep the public momentum going.

"This is not a nail in the coffin - it's still going. Everyone's just got to keep talking about it - keep talking, don't you stop, because I'm not going to," he said.

"This just gives us 12 months' grace - enough time to look for bigger and better things for the auction," he said.

"You wait! You just wait."

Ray's family have vowed to not let the 2021 event be a total bust. They've started a GoFundMe account for people to donate in lieu of the golfing day. Currently, nearly $900 has been donated.

"I got the shock of my life when I saw that," Ray said.

"And my grandson explained to me - 'Pop, we can't let her name die'."

If you would like to donate to the Children's Cancer Council, you can do so through the 'Don't let COVID stop Ray raising funds for kids' page.

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