11-year-old, Xavier Neil, has taken on a very admirable mission, dedicating hundreds of hours over the last three years to help ease the burden of people living with cancer.
Like so many other families, Xavier’s family has been touched by cancer, losing their Pop to the disease a few years ago.
Newy Burger Co, owned by Xavier’s father, has always supported charitable causes within the community, so a sense of philanthropy was something Xavier’s parents, Ben and Emma Neil, have instilled in him from a young age.
“When I was eight, Dad signed us up for Surfebruary, where you surf every day in February and raise funds for the specialist cancer hospital, Chris O’Brien Lifehouse,” Xavier said.
After reaching his initial fundraising goal of $1000 in just 24-hours, Xavier set a more ambitious goal.
“With the help of some generous people locally, including artist, Mitch Revs, and Murray’s Craft Brewing Co, I was the highest fundraiser for Surfebruary, raising over $12,000,” Xavier said.
“I had so many people coming up to me each morning when we went surfing, encouraging me on what I was doing.
“It made me feel warm inside, and I wanted to do more.”
While crafting soaps and lip balms had previously been a rainy weekend activity for Xavier and his mum, the pair opted to continue it on a larger scale.
They began selling the products and donating all profits to Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, a not-for-profit comprehensive cancer hospital in Camperdown, Sydney.
The Good x Karma venture was born, and since June 2019, Xavier and his mum have spent one weekend per month crafting lip balms, soaps and candles to fundraise.
Xavier said it takes approximately 20 minutes to prepare the hand soap formula and another 20 minutes to pour it before it is left to set for 24-hours.
So far, Xavier has raised an eye-watering amount for charity.
“So far, between my four Surfebruary campaigns and my Good X Karma fundraising, I have raised over $75,000 for Chris O’Brien Lifehouse,” Xavier said.
“I was fortunate to be able to visit and tour Lifehouse, and what they offer in terms of patient treatment and care is amazing.”
Many Novocastrians and local businesses have supported Xavier on his mission by either buying his products online or stocking them in their stores.
Local artist, Mitch Revs, designed a series of Good X Karma t-shirts for Xavier to sell and fundraise.
Xavier’s fundraising efforts have not gone unnoticed by the Hunter community.
“What makes us most proud is that he has been honoured by two amazing charities that have asked him to be their ambassador- that being Surfebruary and Charlie’s Run 4 Kids,” said Xavier’s dad, Ben Neil.
“We have much respect for these charities that were started by a few individuals wanting to do their bit – all touched by cancer and all wanting to rid the world of this horrible disease.”
This year, Xavier, a resident of Whitebridge, was also awarded Lake Mac’s Young Citizen of the Year 2022.
“He was really overwhelmed and honoured to be acknowledged with the award,” Ben said.
“We’re very proud of his genuine want to do his bit to help others.
“Although he is just like every other 11-year-old and tests us every day,” he laughed.
His parents said the “most amazing” thing about Xavier’s fundraising journey was the ripple effect he had created.
“Many of the people that donated to his first Surfebruary when he was the only one in Newcastle doing it have since joined us every February since,” Ben said.
“There are some kids younger than him and even some guys who haven’t surfed for 20 years getting in the water inspired by his efforts.
“Xav often gets asked what advice he would give to other kids who want to get involved in fundraising.
“He says that everyone can do something to help others, as every little bit helps.”