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AFTER giving so much to Canberra, even in his last days, the community now has an opportunity to give something back to the memory of Steve Doszpot, politician, “patron saint of lost causes” and friend to many.
Over a decade, Steve tirelessly organised trivia nights, which raised $230,000 for 10 charities and individuals. His final trivia night was just months before he lost his battle with liver cancer. He was 69.
Now, driven by friend and fellow Liberal MLA Jeremy Hanson, next month’s “Steve Doszpot Memorial Charity Trivia Night” will be in aid of the ACT Cancer Council, which will ensure every cent goes to liver cancer research.
Before he died, Steve, who often called Jeremy and himself the “class of 2008” (the year they were both elected), had asked an “honoured” Jeremy to take over.
Set for June 15 at the Hellenic Club in Woden, Jeremy says it will be a celebration – “yes” – but also it’ll raise awareness of how early diagnosis and treatment can save lives.
“His passing is painful but it’s such a fun night, it’ll be anything but sorrowful and Steve would be annoyed if it was anything else but fun,” he says.
For Steve’s wife of 46 years, Maureen, the trivia night is imperative because it’s what he really wanted.
“He wanted to spend the last few months of his life raising awareness and money for liver cancer,” she says.
“When Steve should have been looking after himself, he was still looking after others.”
In his last speech as MLA to the Assembly in October, Steve used the opportunity to advocate for “yet another medical issue that requires more understanding, more awareness, more prioritisation and more funding for research and development”.
“It is not for myself that I am asking – my cancer is inoperable,” he said.
“But in the course of my journey so far I have become very much aware of how early diagnosis of liver cancer could help save many lives.”
Selfless to the end, Maureen recalls the key moment when Steve started to walk down a path of actively helping others.
It was during a campaign at Calwell shops when a woman said to Steve: “As if you could help”, to which he replied: “Try me”.
The woman had a son who needed a wheelchair, so Steve ran a couple of sausage sizzles and raised the money.
“This started the idea in him, that there are so many people who need help,” Maureen says.
Steve eventually picked up the nickname “the patron saint of lost causes”, but Jeremy says once Steve got engaged with a cause it was no longer lost.
“He would not say ‘no’ when obstacles were put in front of him, he saw it as a challenge,” Jeremy says.
“Even when things seemed like a lost cause Steve would about always get a result.”
Jeremy, who has been to every one of Steve’s trivia nights, says people attended them for a good cause but also to support Steve.
His favourite memory from the trivia nights was when he was on a table next to Maureen.
While someone was auctioning off a Raiders jersey, food had also started to come out and Steve hadn’t eaten, so Maureen put her hand up to signal to him – “the food’s ready” – but instead of Steve she caught the attention of the auctioneer and scored herself a Raiders jersey.
But Steve was more of a soccer, or “football” as he would say, fan and the trivia questions, which he wrote himself, often reflected that.
This time, questions for the “Steve Doszpot Memorial Charity Trivia Night” will be written by Paul Murphy and will consist of six rounds, each with a different theme, as well as other games, activities, a silent auction, a main auction and a raffle.
Jeremy and Maureen are also looking for people and businesses to donate prizes before the night, which will be auctioned off.
In this way, as Steve said in his speech, his endeavour lives on, “not only for the thousands of cancer sufferers in our community but also for their families who are so important as hardworking carers providing love, support and hope”.