For the past month now, I’ve wanted to write a post about why building a children’s hospice in Queensland is so important to me, to Miss Z, to our family. But after a month of procrastination and not knowing how to even start, I have come to a realisation. I’m not ready to share those thoughts and feelings just yet. And maybe not ever. Miss Z’s diagnosis as being “life limited” is something that QB and I are still coming to terms with and aren’t ready to fully share with the outside world. It is all just too new and raw and scary.
But it is important to me to talk about children’s hospice. Because Vegemite and I have been raising money for Hummingbird House, which when it is completed, will be the first children’s hospice in Queensland and the third in the whole of Australia. Which is crazy, considering there are over 300,000 life-limited kids in Queensland alone.
Of course, I wouldn’t have even known any of this if it hadn’t been for our journey with Miss Z. I think a children’s hospice is the kind of place that you don’t realise the importance of, until you need it.
Several months ago now, Vegemite and I decided that we were going to run some races. Vegemite had done exceptionally well at cross country in school and was enthusiastic to keep running. And I have been trying to get back on the wagon – the running wagon, that is. I fell off around a year ago and have struggled to start running again – there has just been too much else going on.
I suggested to Vegemite that we could motivate ourselves by running to raise money for charity. We discussed the different charities we could support and I decided to let Vegemite choose. It didn’t take her long to choose Hummingbird House.
I think Hummingbird House appealed to her because in addition to the end-of-life services, the hospice will support families with medically complex children. It will provide breaks away for the children – or for the whole family. And Vegemite understands that. Plus, she was instantly fascinated by their plans to build an accessible treehouse (yes, a treehouse that can be used by children in wheelchairs) and began to plan other features that she thought they should consider.
I needed it, too. Because I needed to do something positive, if only to take my mind off all the intensely difficult and sad developments happening around here lately. Fundraising for Hummingbird House helped me to get out and exercise rather than hide in bed feeling sorry for myself and Miss Z.
To start with, we did the usual thing of setting up a fundraising page online and requesting donations via Facebook and email. Money started to trickle in, but since it was all online and the races were still several weeks away, Vegemite didn’t feel very involved.
Then I spoke to her teacher about fundraising at school and she was happy to get involved. Vegemite made a collection box and decorated it with pictures of hummingbirds. And she wrote and gave a short presentation to her class about fundraising for Hummingbird House. Her teacher included a request for donations in the class newsletter and the weekly school newsletter.
And the donations came flooding in, much to Vegemite’s delight. We ran our races – the first where it was a team effort over an obstacle course and the second where we ran different races, making it Vegemite’s first road race on her own.
Today was Vegemite’s school athletics carnival, so I ended up chatting with a lot of other parents. They all knew about Hummingbird House because everyone in Vegemite’s class was talking about it. And better still, parents were telling me how their children understood the importance of the hospice – and the importance of supporting Vegemite. Several actually donated their pocket money – their own personal money rather than just asking for their parents to give them money to donate. One girl scoured her house and car for spare change every morning. Everyone got behind Vegemite for the cause.
Her teacher also told me how happy she was with the class. They donated money knowing that they weren’t going to get anything back – just the knowledge that they had done a good deed.
I’m hugely proud of Vegemite. Not only did she rock her races (she had a great time at both) but she raised a lot of money for an important cause. I’m also so happy that her class – and the whole school – supported her fundraising. I hope that if/when we have difficult days in the future, Vegemite knows that she did something great for her sister and other children like her. I also hope she remembers that her friends, classmates and teachers are there for her – something that I think is a big deal for a sibling of a child with special needs.
There is still time if you would like to support Vegemite’s efforts to raise money for Hummingbird House. You can donate online here: https://give.everydayhero.com/au/anya-and-sarah-run-for-hummingbird-house .