AFL great’s sick children's charity on brink of collapse
A leading South Australian children's charity is on the brink of collapse as donations dry up in the wake of devastating bushfires, its founder says.
The Little Heroes Foundation, started by inaugural Adelaide Crows captain Chris McDermott, supports children with serious illness and their families throughout SA and the Northern Territory.
But Mr McDermott says the future of the organisation is dire because there aren't "financial resources to last any longer".
"Since December, contributions to us and our profile has dropped so much that we're now (functioning) month-to-month, we can't look any further ahead," he told The Advertiser.
"If it continues, I don't think we'll see past June 30 and that's after 24 years (of service) and more than $35 million raised."
Much of the money raised goes to lifesaving facilities at Adelaide's Women's and Children's Hospital.
Since 2011, the foundation has also provided daily support to families through the Little Heroes Care program.
Mr McDermott said he became worried in late November when a charity golf day - featuring Crows champion Tony Modra and NBL great Andrew Gaze - was canned because of "lack of interest".
He said a Christmas fundraiser the following month also tanked as bushfires ravaged the Adelaide Hills and ignited on Kangaroo Island, shifting people's focus to those affected.
"The way people have rallied to the cause for those that have suffered has been fantastic, so it's not about woe is us because of them," he said.
"(But) we pulled everything. It was inappropriate for us to fundraise during that time. Now we're in February and it just hasn't recovered at all."
The non-profit organisation was born in 1996 as the McGuinness McDermott Foundation, with the help of former Crows captain Tony McGuinness.
It was dedicated to Nicholas Berry, 5, and Nathan Maclean, 7, who died of cancer.
In 2010, the two Crows greats parted ways amid controversy over Mr McGuinness' personal life.
The name later changed to the Little Heroes Foundation.
"(It's) horrible. I've always felt (the job isn't) done, what we've set out to do and wanted to do, I don't think it has an end date," Mr McDermott said.
Since the downturn, charity staff have been reduced from 10 to just four, with two full-time and two part-time workers still employed.
"We're not here to pay wages, we're here to raise money and do what we do," Mr McDermott said.
"If we can't do that, if that day comes, we'll close."
In October, SA charity Muscular Dystrophy shut its doors to hundreds of clients because of "significant financial hardship" following a failed home lottery fundraiser.
The 65-year-old organisation announced its closure on social media.