Seventh annual Belvoir Special School Charity Luncheon forms part of Jack Maher Classic at Racing Wodonga

Celebrity personal trainer Michelle Bridges may just need to go easy on guests at a Border charity event on Saturday.

“We’ve got a lolly bar this year,” fundraiser co-ordinator Vivian Busellato said with a laugh.

“I don’t know how we’ll go with that one but she’ll have to overlook it.” 

Bridges is this year’s special guest at the seventh annual Belvoir Special School Charity Luncheon at Wodonga Racecourse.

Her appearance follows presentations by basketball player Lauren Jackson and football identities Robert DiPierdomenico and Sam Kekovich in recent years.

Since 2012 the annual luncheon has raised $105,320 for the Wodonga school but, as Ms Busellato points out, the money is not everything.

“That’s the whole community awareness thing,” she said.

“Ninety per cent of the people there are people who aren’t directly associated with the school.

“Our school and students continue to strengthen their presence in the community and enjoy building relationships as part of our community and curriculum programs.”

Racing Wodonga general manager Tom O’Connor said the luncheon enhanced Saturday’s annual Jack Maher Classic Race Day.

“The partnership between the school and Racing Wodonga has been fantastic,” he said.

Ms Busellato said events like the luncheon helped change people’s perceptions about Belvoir and its students.

“Our kids do everything, they are functioning members of society, just their functioning varies,” she said.

“There’s a strong focus on giving our children a chance and the opportunity to be a part of the community; they are a part of the community.”

Past luncheons have raised money for additional play equipment and shade, therapy equipment and general resources such as computers, tablets and interactive smart boards.

A present project is planning and building a life skills house that will be used to help prepare students for adult living.

“It’s certainly still a vision and a good one and we can’t wait when it does get built because then we can start teaching our kids how to live independently,” Ms Busellato said.

“Living alone is a milestone for the best of us, we all want to get out of home and live alone or live with your friends or whatever.

“These guys are no different, they have the same dream, definitely.” 

Ms Busellato said after each luncheon the fundraising committee felt humbled by the positive and encouraging comments from guests.

“This reaction is so touching and we are just elated that the day has run smoothly,” she said.