A blessing for Angela and Ollie
THE Ballina Country Women's Association had their September monthly fundraising get-together with efforts to raise money for a worthy and moving cause – Heartkids.
Heartkids strives to offer support, encouragement and hope to families of children with heart disease, while raising awareness and vital funding into the causes of this chronic disease.
Attending the volunteer fundraising event – held at the CWA Hall in River Street Ballina – was Angela Bowden and her two-year-old son Oliver, of Ballina.
Oliver is one of many children suffering from a heart condition, and is set for open heart surgery at the Brisbane Mater Hospital next month.
“I didn't realise an organisation like this existed until I researched around. I really hope we can raise community awareness about an issue that affects so many children and families,” Angela said.
Heart defects are the most common birth abnormality, affecting one in every 100 children.
Heart disease is also the leading cause of infant death in Australia, accounting for approximately 30 per cent of deaths.
For around 80 per cent of heart defects, the cause is largely unknown.
Oliver, otherwise know as Ollie, has a hole in his heart and a leaking heart valve which requires prompt surgery.
Although Ollie's condition has been with him from birth, with his main symptom being shortness of breath, it hasn't dampened his spirits.
“My husband and I have been told that he should have even more energy after he's recovered from surgery, which we didn't think was possible,” laughed Angela.
Despite Angela and her family's difficult situation, she still sees herself as extremely lucky.
“Since being involved with Heartkids, we've seen many children and families who are worse off than us,” she said.
“It's just nice to know that through Heartkids, we have the support of other families who are going through the same thing.”
The non-government funded organisation still has a long way to go.
Maggie Johnston, of the CWA, said the fundraiser was a great turn-out and the association would love to see more community awareness raised for Heartkids.
“There needs to be more media and community attention surrounding Heartkids in order to gain greater support,” she said
“Angela and Ollie's situation really has inspired us all.”
If you would like to support what is Australia's most significant children's health issue, visit www.heartkids.org.au or make a donation at your local Brumby's and Donut King.