Tatura’s Jenny Lagozzino had one motivation when it came to raising money for the U.G.L.Y. bartender competition: to keep families together.
On Monday night she was awarded for her mammoth effort from the Leukaemia Foundation after Lagozzino’s Top Pub in Tatura claimed top honours in the Victorian U.G.L.Y. Bartender of the Year competition.
U.G.L.Y. — which stands for Understanding, Generous, Likeable, You — is an annual fundraising competition which puts publicans to the test in an effort to raise the most for the Leukaemia Foundation.
Jenny was motivated to take part due to her own battle with cancer, and the extra challenges she faced as a single mother.
When she was diagnosed with leukaemia four-and-a-half years ago, she needed to leave regional Victoria for Melbourne for treatment, and this meant saying goodbye to her three children while she was treated, a decision she said was heartbreaking.
‘‘My kids were all separated to other members of my family and friends,’’ Jenny said.
‘‘I’d never been away from them before.’’
After an extended battle her cancer went into remission, but the stresses of battling the illness while away from her children stuck with her.
Last year she entered into the U.G.L.Y. Bartender of the Year competition with her new husband Frank Lagozzino to try to raise a bit of cash for the Leukaemia Foundation. They raised an impressive $4200, but Jenny believed they could do better.
‘‘We wanted to double that,’’ she said.
This year she tried every fundraising scheme she could think of, including raffles, walkathons, cake stalls and market days to earn every possible charity dollar she could.
‘‘We had raffles where the winners had to be our barmaid for the night or sweep our floors,’’ she said. ‘‘We kept coming up with crazy things and they were all really good sports about it, the people of Tatura are really good.’’
Over the six weeks she raised $15016.60, more than the 273 other pubs across Victoria taking part in the competition.
Although she won a $3000 Flight Centre gift card and an ice machine, for Jenny the real prize is knowing the difference her fundraising will make.
Last year she received a card from a woman from Bendigo who was battling cancer in a Melbourne hospital, and because of fundraisers like Jenny’s the woman could stay with her children during treatment.
‘‘I was so happy that she could be there with her kids — those are the stories that make you want to do it,’’ Jenny said.