A ripple of inspiration
Xavier (Xav) Neil has been fundraising for cancer research since he was eight years old. Four years later, he is approaching a whopping $100,000 in funds raised and inspiring others to follow suit.
It all started in 2019 when Xav and his dad Ben learned about SurFebruary through a family friend and cancer survivor. It’s a monthlong annual event where participants raise money for cancer research by catching a wave every day, surfing or swimming, come rain, hail or shine. All funds raised go to Chris O’Brien Lifehouse (COBLH), a specialist cancer care and research hospital.
“At the time, Xav was the only kid completing SurFebruary and the only person in Newcastle doing this. In fact, the event was hardly known at all here,” says Ben. “But as we went surfing every morning, there was a lot of support from the local community and local media, and the word kept spreading.”
Xav raised $12,534, ended up being the biggest fundraiser for the charity and was keen to continue. He had been making soaps and lip balms with his mum Emma for fun, so why not make a few more and sell them for charity? It was the start of the Good X Karma range.
Local artist Mitch Revs came on board, and t-shirts with his unique designs were added to the offering. There are currently two to three t-shirt runs per year. They are so popular, they typically sell out via pre-orders.
In 2020, Xav was asked to become an ambassador for SurFebruary. Since 2022, he has also been involved with Charlie’s Run4Kids, and ended up running more than 45kms in this year’s event.
“When this all started, I was a bit naïve,” Xav admits. “I thought we’d be able to raise enough money to rid the world of cancer. But I’m keen to continue, always trying to find new ways and products to raise funds.” He is even considering a career in cancer research one day.
For now, meetings with young cancer patients like Lake Mac local Emma Walsh inspire Xav to keep going.
Proceeds from his latest t-shirt run, featuring his own designs, as well as all merch sales for the next couple of months will go towards Emma’s own passion projects which will support creating comfort packs for other young cancer patients.
“We saw her last night,” Ben says. “And Xav left with a tear in his eye, but also determined to keep going. We certainly don’t push him to do this. It’s something he wants to do naturally. “There are now 100 surfers and swimmers in Newcastle who participate in SurFebruary.
“It’s a powerful ripple effect he has created. Not everyone has to devote as much time as Xav does.
“But he is inspiring many people to do something, to participate in an event, to host a fundraiser, whatever it might be. And maybe that is even more important than the funds he raises himself.”
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Good X Karma lip balms, soaps, candles, and t-shirts are available online on inspiredtraders.com.au or at the Newcastle Visitor Centre.
Visit the Good X Karma Instagram page for updates on Xav’s latest initiatives.
Story by Cornelia Schulze, photography courtesy of Good X Karma