Novelty Derby horse race to support terminally ill baby Rocka’s fight

Grace HendryBroome Advertiser
Billy Blacker and Jessie Evans pictured with their son
Camera IconBilly Blacker and Jessie Evans pictured with their son Credit: Rusty Willow Photography

The West Australian family of a terminally ill baby undergoing treatment in locked down Sydney have been granted an Angel Flight to Brisbane, after Queensland bureaucrats refused to allow them an exemption to travel home together.

Billy Blacker, Jessie Evans and their four-month-old baby Rocka today travelled to Brisbane, where they will spend the next two weeks quarantined in an Airbnb as a family.

Rocka suffers from spinal muscular atrophy type one and is immune compromised, which meant travelling on a commercial flight could potentially be life-threatening for the bub.

Fortunately, Angel Flight offered the family a private, direct flight on a sterile aircraft, allowing them to safely travel home together.

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Rocka’s grandmother Linda Evans said even visiting airports was too greater risk.

“It just wasn’t an option to put them on a commercial flight,” she said.

“He has absolutely no immune system, when he goes in to hospital he faces the possibility of never coming out.”

Linda and her husband Boof Evans manage Napier Downs Station in the Kimberley and were relieved to hear their family could stay together.

“They’re tough kids and they’d do whatever they had to for Rocka, even if it meant chopping their left arm off,” Linda said.

“They have to be together right now, they need each other.”

A fundraiser will be held at the Kimberley Picnic Races in Derby this weekend, with Kimberley School of the Air to donate 50 per cent of their proceeds to help Rocka in his ongoing care.

Linda Evans ran the event for 15 years and said the races were the last of their kind in Australia, with entirely stock horses and no whips used.

“It is a really special time and great family day where all the stations come together,” Linda said.

“Come down and have a beer for Rocka.”

The Ride for Rocka campaign has also been established on GoFundMe, to raise awareness about the genetic disease and funds to cover travel expenses and treatment for Rocka.

An auction will also take place in Broome on October 16, to raise money for spinal muscular atrophy research.

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