This is a long post, but it’s important, so please read to the end. If you want the short version, here it is:
The Starlight Children’s Foundation Australia does incredible work to bring light, hope and joy into the lives of children who desperately need those things. Please, please support their important work by donating here.
For those who want to know why I’m so enthusiastic about The Starlight Children’s Foundation Australia (I’ll refer to it as the Starlight Foundation), read on…
The Starlight Foundation is currently fundraising for their Mission: Christmas 2012 appeal, aiming to raise $1 million to grant wishes for seriously ill Australian children. In a shameless attempt to help you connect with this charity, to make their work real for you, I’m going to introduce you to my wonderful friend Ivy.
I’m not going to show you gorgeous photos to overwhelm you with the cute factor, although I could do that because Ivy’s a sweetie and her mother is a gifted photographer. There are cute photos in abundance. I’m not going to show you heart-wrenching photos either, although sadly we have those in abundance as well. Photos in hospital beds with Ivy lethargic and pale, hooked up to machines with a fatigue and world-weariness in her eyes that no child, or adult, should ever have to experience.
Instead, I’m going to give you a glimpse into the life of Ivy and her family, through the eyes of a friend, so that hopefully you can understand why the wishes The Starlight Foundation grants aren’t just something nice for sick kids. They are true gifts to these children and their families that make a profound difference in their lives. They create priceless moments and memories that these children and their families treasure.
Ivy has an immune deficiency disorder, which means her body simply can’t fight off the infections that most of us hardly even notice. She needs regular (every three weeks) infusions of white blood cells to boost her crippled immune system so she can have some semblance of a normal life – so that she can attend school, go to her beloved ballet classes, and spend time with her family and friends.
Despite medication, treatments and the constant vigilance of her family, Ivy is often sick and often requires hospitalisation. Because this disrupts her routines, she misses school and the opportunity to build strong friendships with the other students in her grade. Her growth has been restricted by constant medications and illness, meaning that she only comes up to the shoulder of her twin brother, Noah.
There are all sorts of medical procedures and treatments that Ivy endures because of her condition – seemingly endless rounds of needles and scans and blood tests and operations. She has recently had to have a nasogastric tube in place for several months. She has had tubes connected all over her tiny body as doctors and nurses work to find viable veins because the ones most commonly used are scarred and no longer accessible.
The very treatments and procedures she needs to survive often lead to complications that require further treatments, needles and pain for her little body to endure. A heart-wrenching catch-22 for Ivy’s parents as they try to balance long term gain with short term pain and risk for their precious girl.
Ivy endures frequent discomfort, limitations and distress because of her illness. Her family is incredible and she is given every opportunity to simply have fun and enjoy being a little girl, but the reality is that in her young life she has already gathered far too many painful, frightening memories and missed out on too many of the everyday moments so many of us take for granted.
Ivy’s family is amazing, but Ivy’s illness impacts them all. They are honestly the most inspirational and special family, and they have many lovely, happy moments, but there are also so many tears and worries. So much time spent at hospitals and doctor’s appointments and so many sacrifices made by parents and siblings so that Ivy can have the care she needs. They do this willingly and with love, but that doesn’t change the fact that they have hardships to bear beyond what most of us experience.
One year ago, The Starlight Foundation granted Ivy’s wish to dance on stage with the Australian Ballet. She visited the Opera House, wearing a beautiful tutu and an even more beautiful smile, and was treated to the most incredibly special experience. While this wish was a gift for Ivy, I know that it was also a priceless gift to her family. I would like to think that it was also a gift for the dancers who met Ivy on the day; that their time with Ivy made a difference in their lives too. I know reading about Ivy’s wish and looking at the photos of her special day impacted my life and my heart. (You can read more about Ivy’s Starlight Foundation wish day here.)
The Starlight Foundation doesn’t just grant wishes to sick children, they reach out into situations that can feel overwhelmingly bleak and create sparkling moments that touch lives. I’ve seen the Starlight Captains in action visiting children in hospitals and they radiate energy and happiness and a sense of playfulness that is inspiring.
The Starlight Children’s Foundation Australia is trying to raise $1 million to grant wishes to 154 seriously ill children (watch the Mission 2012 video here). By helping them, you are doing something amazing that has a ripple effect that moves well beyond the child whose wish is granted.
Please consider supporting The Starlight Foundation. You can make a general donation, or specifically donate to their Mission: Christmas 2012 appeal. All details are at The Starlight Children’s Foundation Australia website.
You can read more about Ivy and her family at her mother’s blog My Three Ring Circus. There are details of her illness and lots of the cute, and heartbreaking, photos that I mentioned earlier. Ivy and her family are inspiring, beautiful people, who are incredibly generous of spirit and warm of heart. Even though so many of the posts will bring tears to your eyes, you’ll be glad you had the chance to connect with this wonderful family.
Thank you. xxx