23 February 2024

Ella makes a splash by using bracelet boom to raise funds for MS Mega Swim

| Keeli Royle
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Ella and Hayley Kalyvas

Ella and Hayley Kalyvas are fundraising for the MS Mega Swim. Photo: Keeli Royle.

A seven-year-old swimmer has already raised more than a thousand dollars for people with multiple sclerosis by selling popular beaded bracelets ahead of a 24-hour charity event she’ll be participating in next month.

Ella Kalyvas and her mum Hayley came up with the fundraising idea while on a camping trip, but never expected it to take off the way it has.

“We were camping and she took the beads along and we thought it was a great thing that will keep her occupied – next thing you know we’ve got everyone on board, teenagers, the boys, everyone was beading,” Hayley said.

“We’re selling lots of bracelets and then we walked around our campsite for two hours,” Ella said. “We sold out.”

The friendship bracelets continued to be a hit, with the Taylor Swift concerts further driving demand.

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So Ella kept making them.

“I just thought it was a good idea,” she said. “We just get lots of pretty beads and then some people message us to put things on them.”

“When Ella got home from school yesterday she beaded from 3:30 until 7 o’clock at night; I had to drag them away so we could get to bed. And then she was awake at 5:30 this morning beading, so she’s very committed to the cause,” Hayley said.

Ella’s fundraising page has now climbed beyond $1200, with their community connections, friends and family all showing their support for her efforts.

“It’s overwhelming – we’re selling them for a dollar each but encouraging people to make a donation at her page,” Hayley said.

“Most people have been very generous; it’s been amazing.”

Hayley has participated in the MS Mega Swim for the past five years and has encouraged more people to come along every year, with Ella and other students from Nareena Heights Public School also now involved.

“For me it’s about doing something that I really love and then the charity side of it is a bonus,” she said.

“Also showing these little guys what an impact they can have just by doing something and there’s no barrier to age.”

Ella participated in the event for the first time last year and clocked up 20 laps, despite the miserable weather on the day.

“It was really fun, but the pool was cold,” Ella said.

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Hayley thinks Ella and her young friends will do even better this time around.

“It’s the year for the little ones to shine and just show them how much fun it is,” Hayley said.

“I think they’re going to smash this year … they’ve got lots of 20-minute stints over the 24 hours.”

“We’ll let you sleep at night but they’re going to be in and out throughout the event.”

Ella and Hayley have been amazed by the response which has kept them upping their fundraising goal.

And the messages of support have also helped spur them on.

“Ella’s loving reading all the things that everyone’s been writing, all the words of encouragement,” Hayley said.

The Wollongong MS Mega Swim starts on Saturday 9 March at midday at UniActive.

To donate to Ella visit her fundraising page.

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