Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Precious Hearts - Traci O'Sullivan

As I've said before, I'm meeting all kinds of amazing people along the road with this book - Traci is one of the first people I came into contact with.  A tower of strength for her family and for many, many others.

Often you see something being shared on facebook or in the media, you see the logo or a photo and you don't think of the people behind it or the reason for the group/charity having been started.  I wanted to give you some insight into some of these Mums and Dads I'm meeting and show you that behind the logo you see, there are usually only a handful of people working their little butts off to keep doing the good they do.  Running something like Precious Hearts is a full time job, with no financial payoff and more often than not you'll find the people behind these charities are fighting the battle that they spend so much time trying to make easier for others.

I asked Traci to write something for me to share, and here it is :)

"There was a night last year when I was laying on a bed in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Westmead Children’s Hospital. My tiny little boy was only 10 days old, fighting for his life after emergency heart surgery. I couldn’t sleep, so I began thinking about what good karma I could put out into the world, so that my son would live.

Precious Hearts was founded a few months later when life returned to our new ‘normal’. I wanted to do something different. Something for the kids. I wanted it to be personal. I wanted it to be from my heart to theirs. What could possibly cheer up a child who has just endured heart surgery and is now stuck in a hospital bed for days on end bored out of their tree?
I decided that I would make care packages for these beautiful little people. Our care packages are full of age appropriate goodies such as toys, colouring in books, art and crafts, games and anything that can be enjoyed by children recovering from heart surgery. Many hospitals have fantastic facilities that cannot be accessed by these children because their heart monitors are not portable. The feedback that we have had from the children, their families and the hospital staff is truly overwhelming. Our care packages are loved!

Equally as important as giving the children a reason to smile, is raising awareness about congenital heart disease. It is the biggest killer of children under 5 in this country – who knew? 1 in 100 Australian babies are born with a heart defect. I am very passionate about telling everyone I know about it. If the doctor performing your baby’s newborn check hears a heart murmur – don’t leave that hospital without having an echocardiogram. Trust me, it could save their life. My son was sent home as a newborn with a fatal heart condition that almost claimed his life.
Precious Hearts is a registered Australian charity, which means if you donate to us, it’s tax deductable. We are one of the few charities that is run completely by a handful of volunteers. We don’t operate out of a factory or office space.... instead our cars are now parked outside and the garage is overrun with boxes of toys and goodies ... we’ve erected another garden shed, and taken over the spare room. Our phone calls and stationary costs come out of our own pockets. We want to make sure that any money that is donated goes directly to our cause. We can’t afford advertising on TV or radio, so we head out into our local community and raise awareness by holding BBQ’s and market stalls.

When you run a charity on such a personal level, you take everything personally. It’s hard work, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. We’ve been bullied by the big guys, we’ve wondered how we’ll raise enough money to keep things going, and we have cried ourselves to sleep when some of these precious little children have lost their battles. Our care packages aren’t generic or mass produced, they are lovingly packed by myself and one other volunteer. Every single item that is placed in those bags was hand picked, and we make sure that a little piece of love is packed inside each and every care package. In 7 months we have packed close to 800 care packages.
We have recently launched The Zane Walker Memorial Fund. This will be used to give financial assistance to those families affected by congenital heart disease who are doing it tough financially. People don’t realise how tough it can get when your child is hospitalised for weeks, sometimes months on end, and naturally you can’t be at work and the bills are piling up. Then there are all the added extra’s like ongoing medications and specialist visits. We guarantee that every single cent donated into this fund will go directly to a family in need. That is our promise.
We rely on the generosity of people like you. We accept any donation that is offered. If it’s cash, we’ll put it to good use. If it’s toys or books, they will go into our care packages. If it’s something second hand after you’ve had a spring clean, we will sell it at the markets and buy something that’s needed for our local cardiac wards. We work hard to fundraise. We are holding a Trivia Night in November which will be our major fundraiser for the year, and a tribute to all our little warriors.

From the outside, Precious Hearts is a registered charity that raises awareness about congenital heart defects, delivers care packages to children who are recovering from heart surgery and gives financial assistance to families in need.
From the inside, Precious Hearts is an acknowledgement of the admiration I have for my son, and for every other child who is battling congenital heart disease, and for those little angels whose bodies were just too tired to keep fighting. Precious Hearts is the debt I am repaying to the greater good for my son’s life being spared.
To keep up to date with all Precious Hearts happenings, you can follow us at www.facebook.com/preciousheartspage or you can email us info@precioushearts.com.au

Traci O'Sullivan
Founder and President
Precious Hearts
Website: www.precioushearts.com.au
Facebook: www.facebook.com/preciousheartspage

1 comment:

  1. Inspiring! I'm sharing this on Facebook everyday from here on out.