When Blackfriars dad Shane Seiboth learnt that the 2023 Prefect group was fundraising for the Mary Potter Foundation, he knew he wanted to be involved.
Mr Seiboth, the father of Year 7 student Bailey, last month lost his wife, Tania Kozul, to a rare form of cancer.
“Tania spent her last weeks at Mary Potter Hospice and I can’t speak highly enough of the beautiful, gentle care she was given in there,” Mr Seiboth said.
He contacted the Prefect group asking if he could be involved in Blackfriars Greatest Shave.
“I don’t have very much hair,” he said, with a laugh. “But this is about giving back to Mary Potter, which gave us so much in Tania’s final weeks.”
The family was already dealing with the illness of Ms Kozul’s father, who had been diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2020, when she was diagnosed with peritoneal cancer last Easter; it was already at stage IV – incurable and inoperable. From that day on, there was no good news.
“There was never a good phone call; every time the doctor rang, there was never good news,” Mr Seiboth said.
“The chemo barely suppressed the cancer. It just wasn’t working. She wanted to hang in there to see Bailey start high school at Blackfriars and she achieved that – just. On the first day of school, she came along, sat in the gazebo and could see Bailey go to school. I know she hung in there just so she knew that he was going to be OK. On that day, she was admitted to hospital and she basically never left hospital after that.”
Ms Kozul was admitted to Calvary Hospital before being transferred to the Mary Potter Hospice about a week later.
“They were wonderful,” Mr Seiboth said of the Mary Potter Hospice staff and volunteers. “I can’t speak more highly of the care and support they provide. Tania was there for probably four or five weeks. She was able to accept visitors. There’s a family kitchen there … I could have a meal every day there, just to be with Tania. Nothing was too much trouble for them. And all that comes from the Mary Potter Foundation, from donations to the Foundation.”
He said being part of Blackfriars Greatest Shave was a way to “not just pay it back, but pay it forward”.
“It’s helping families that go through what I have been through in a little way and it’s paying it back for what they did for me,” he said.
“It’s very heartfelt. That’s the sort of generous nature that Tania had, as well. Even when she was very ill, she was still accepting visitors. She wouldn’t let me stop people coming to see her. Tania always put other people first. Whenever visitors came in … she would want to know what was happening in their lives, if they were OK. She was very selfless.”
Most of the 2023 Prefect group will shave their heads during a whole-school assembly on Wednesday 12 April. Along with the students, ESO and old scholar Antonio Caiazza, long-serving teacher Peter Sage (beard), Head of House Clancy Page (beard) and Learning Enrichment Coordinator Dina Hasaneen (pony tail) will face the clippers at the assembly.
The Prefects hope to raise at least $7500 with all money going to the Mary Potter Foundation to support the vital palliative care work of the Mary Potter Hospice.
The 2023 fundraising total currently sits at $4300, but Head Prefect Reuben Calleja was hopeful they would hit their fundraising target.
“We just want to thank everyone who has donated so far,” Reuben said. “It’s been great to see the whole community getting behind this initiative. The Mary Potter Foundation is a very worthy cause. We encourage everyone to reach into your pockets, get behind this initiative. Thank you for your support so far.”
Donations to Blackfriars Greatest Shave can be made here.