Pearcedale rallies around beloved teen

A GoFundMe for Blake Rupe and his family has raised more than $20,000. 286731_04 Picture: SUPPLIED

By Marcus Uhe and Chloe Henry

The generosity of the Pearcedale community has been on full display this week, having rallied around the Rupe family following teenager Blake Rupe’s shocking car accident.

Blake was left in a coma after he was struck by a car on Baxter-Tooradin road on Wednesday 15 June and was airlifted to the Alfred hospital.

A GoFundMe page for the family smashed its financial expectations within just a few days of being established.

The fundraising page started by the Pearcedale Football Netball Club set-out with an initial goal of raising $10,000 for the Rupe family, but as of Wednesday morning, 22 June, the big-heartedness of the community saw that total exceed $20,000 in just five days from more than 250 individual donations, including contributions of as much as $750 from local business, Mr Fix It Mechanics.

Michelle Stevens has known the Rupes since her son, Jay Carbone, started prep with Blake at Pearcedale Primary School and has watched them play junior sport at Pearcedale Baxter Junior Football Club and Pearcedale Cricket Club together over the years.

The two ran through a shared banner when they played their 50th game at the Panthers together and share an extremely close bond, both on and off the field.

“I thought they would reach the goal of $10,000 no worries, and I knew that his friends and community would support him,” Ms Stevens said.

“He’s the first to help anyone out. If anyone needs anything, he’s the first one there. I can understand that people want to support him.

“They’ve donated because they’ve seen the respect Blake has for his community.

As treasurer and bar manager at the Cricket Club, Ms Stevens has been the beneficiary of Blake’s selflessness and generosity.

“As long as I can remember, he’s been helpful.

“You look at all the kids in the community, they’re teenage boys, but Blake will be the one to say, ‘I’m going to help out here.’

“He’s always the first one unloading cans from my car for the bar, he does (those things) for a lot of people. He won’t kick the footy with his mates if he knows the canteen needs help.”

The Pearcedale Pantry, a local institution for sharing fresh produce and groceries among the community, created a basket specifically for donations to the family.

Julie Ann, the pantry creator, said she did not have a connection to the family herself, but said the contributions reflected the spirit of the coastal villages.

“The community is amazing,” she said.

“It’s not just the support and contribution to the pantry but with the GoFundMe, it’s just what Pearcedale’s about, everyday people looking after everyday people.”

President of the Pearcedale Baxter Junior Football Club, John Barbaresso, said Blake’s accident came as a complete shock to the community.

“Three years ago, Blake was our junior club person of the year, and for someone that doesn’t play at the club, the amount of work that he did around the club – he’s just a wonderful kid,” Mr Barbaresso said.

Blake was a frequent helper at the junior football club, volunteering his time to set up grounds, assist in the canteen, and help clean up – among many other things.

The junior football club had a donation tin for the cause at their canteen over the weekend, which Mr Barabaressos expected to collect around $1-2000.

As of Monday 20 June, Ms Stevens and Mr Barbaresso said Blake had emerged from his coma and was responding to the nurses looking after him.

“It’s just wonderful to hear his progress,” Mr Barbaresso said.

To donate to the cause, head to