Josie Devitt, April Barker, Finlay Sullivan and Lucy Gillies

How a pot plant sale in Queensland raised money for MND research at IHMRI 

A Queensland school student has traded her weekend screen time for a life lesson in philanthropy and community spirit. 

Eleven year old April Barker from Brisbane raised over $1,000 by selling potted plants in a yard sale last month.

Her goal was to raise money to support the Motor Neurone Disease (MND) research of Professor Justin Yerbury at the Illawarra Health and Medical Research Facility (IHMRI). 

April Barker

The year six student says she first heard about Professor Yerbury on the ABC’s Australian Story documentary. 

“My friend’s grandpa died of MND and my Uncle’s friend has been diagnosed with it, and my neighbour’s friend died from it.” 

“It starts off with your thumbs or other small parts of your body. Muscles stop working, and your voice might have slurs in it. It gets hard to talk until your voice stops working and you need a machine to speak for you depending on your eye movements. Eventually you stop swallowing and you can’t move your limbs and your lungs become weak,” said April.

April says she decided to hold a pot plant sale to help Professor Yerbury find a cure for the devastating disease.

“My mum was saving lots of plants from a house that was being sold in our street, they were going to be thrown away but we decided to sell them instead and give the money to MND research.” 

Professor Yerbury has thanked April and her friends for their efforts and says every donation counts; 

“I have a team of researchers that are all working hard to understand and find treatments for MND. We want to say thank you because without the hard work of people like you, our work would not be possible. You have done an amazing job, so thank you and keep up the great work.” 

April Barker says that when she grows up she wants to be the Prime Minister of Australia, a famous actress, a world number one tennis player, an author, an artist and a fashion designer. 

And her message to Professor Yerbury and his team; 

“Good luck! I know you can make a difference! Remember life is beautiful!”

Thank you video

Related stories

Associate Professor Justin Yerbury on ABC’s Australian Story

Media contact

Louise Negline, Communications Coordinator

t: 4221 4702

m: 0417 044 867


Top photo:Josie Devitt, April Barker, Finlay Sullivan and Lucy Gillies. Photo supplied by: Lindy Rowe-Barker

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