Facing the unimaginable: St Brigid's students rally to grant Cory Panozzo's Final Wish | Good Friday Appeal

FACING the impending death of a friend is unimaginable for most students.

But St Brigid’s College year 12 students in Horsham have thrown their support behind classmate Cory Panozzo and his final wish.

Cory, 17, was born with neurofibromatosis type 1, or NF-1 – a disease that causes tumours along the nervous system.

The disease can cause mobility issues, debilitating pain and organ malfunction.

It does not have a cure.

Cory has become the poster child for the disease and has a final wish – to raise money for Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital.

Opinion: Donate for Cory

Older sister Emma Ward said Cory was admitted to hospital six months ago after a tumour in his neck popped.

He has been in care in Ballarat since last week.

“In March he lost the mobility in his legs,’’ Mrs Ward said.

“He lost bladder function as well.

“He’s on a catheter and morphine 24-7.’’

Cory wants to raise awareness of the little-known disease.

In raising awareness, he also wants to support the Royal Children’s Hospital and its work.

“He decided to donate $1000 of his own money to the Royal Children’s Hospital because of the care he’s been given,’’ Mrs Ward said.

“He’s only 17. That’s a big decision.

“I’m extremely proud. He’s such a brave little man.

“You know when you’re in pain and you don’t really think about anyone else? He’s the opposite.’’

“You know when you’re in pain and you don’t really think about anyone else? He’s the opposite.’’ - Emma Ward, about younger brother Cory Panozzo

Cory’s decision to support the hospital inspired his year 12 classmates to do the same.

The group hosted a barbecue at Coles in Horsham on Thursday.

The students also ran a bake sale at Horsham Bendigo Bank’s Easter egg hunt at Horsham City Oval on Good Friday.

All money raised will go towards the Royal Children’s Hospital Good Friday Appeal.

Student Georgia Hall, 17, said the students would also run fundraisers throughout the year.

She said all the classmates wanted to do what they could to support Cory.

“We’ve been to school with him for five years, and some people went to primary school with him,’’ she said.

“He knows what we’re doing and he’s very appreciative.’’

Georgia said the students had strong support from St Brigid’s staff.

She asked people to support the fundraisers.

Leave your messages of support for Cory and his family below

Mrs Ward said she had been amazed by the support she and her family had received.

“Life just doesn’t stop for something like this,’’ she said.

“You still go to work, your life goes on and bills still come in.

“You can’t stop and I bloody wish I could, because every minute with him is special.

“Our family and friends have been absolutely amazing.’’

“You can’t stop and I bloody wish I could, because every minute with him is special. - Emma Ward

Mrs Ward’s business, Hairhouse Warehouse in Ballarat, donated 10 per cent of all sales on Thursday to the Good Friday Appeal.

The franchise’s 136 stores all went green – Cory’s favourite colour – in his honour on Thursday.

Mrs Ward said there were also raffles.

She said Cory had also raised an extra $3000 through Facebook on top of his original $1000 donation.

Friends at McDonald’s Horsham are also doing their part to raise money and support the teenager.

“They’re doing so much for him – it’s absolutely amazing,’’ Mrs Ward said.

“From our point of view as a family, we can’t thank everyone enough.

“I haven’t even got the words to describe how I feel and if I did I’d probably cry.

“All we wish is that people will help Cory to raise money. He’d be so proud.

“He wants everyone to know what this disease does to him.’’

Mrs Ward said people could visit ‘Help Cory Panozzo fulfil his final wish’ on Facebook to donate.

● Watch the Royal Children’s Hospital Good Friday Appeal on Channel 7 for more from Cory and his sister.

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