Step up for sick kids with Starlight

Published 5:00am 30 April 2024

Step up for sick kids with Starlight
Words by Nick Crockford

Pictured: Ella raising a smile in hospital visit while battling Graves' Disease.

Ella is a thriving nine-year-old who loves swimming, mixed AFL and has just won her school’s cross country - after years battling Graves’ Disease.

She lives in Moreton Bay still goes to hospital four times a year for blood tests and specialist appointments, but she takes it all in her stride.

In fact, Ella's experiences have left her with a sense of empathy for others in a similar position and strong desire to help.

Especially Starlight Children’s Foundation which has been so helpful in her fight with Graves’ Disease, an immune disorder caused by an overactive thyroid gland.

That is why Ella and her family are urging residents in the City of Moreton Bay to join the Starlight Foundation’s new challenge Super Steps.

To register for Super Steps click here supersteps.org.au. Join the Super Steps community on Instagram and Facebook.

Step up for sick kids with Starlight
Ella having one of many hospital tests and check-ups.

Walk or run 10,000 steps every day in May and contribute to the foundation’s aim of raining $700,000. Registration is free and open now.

Ella is one of many to have benefitted from the Starlight Foundation’s services such as Captain Starlight and the Starlight Express Room.

At the age of two Ella was rushed to hospital after a seizure. For six months she barely put on weight as she grew, developed a tremor in her left hand and her eyes started to protrude.

She was eventually diagnosed with Graves’ Disease.

“As soon as she was diagnosed, we were relieved to have an answer about what was going on with her,” said mum Cosette.

“But we were also saddened about the road ahead for her and overwhelmed by what life would look like.”

Ella is thriving now and supporting the Starlight Foundation's appeal to help sick children

In the first year Ella was hospitalised three times, leaving parents Cosette and Adrian to juggle caring for her and baby sister Amelia. Then Ella was given a radioactive medicine.

“Ella’s radiation levels were too high to be safe for Amelie to be around, so we had to move out for a week. Adrian stayed home to look after Ella.” says Cosette.

Almost two years after the radioactive medication and soon after second sister Edie was born, Ella needed an operation which led to a stay in intensive care.

Thankfully, Captain Starlight has been on hand to help brighten her experience and bring much-needed positivity and fun to the family.

“When we discovered the Starlight Express Room it was such a blessing” says Cosette.

“Ella got to play games and had her face and nails painted. It was such a wonderful escape from the blood tests, medication and four walls of her hospital room!”

Ella has on-going tests, including painful eyedrops which cause anxiety before each appointment. She is also apprehensive about regular blood tests.

All smiles - Ella with her family

“In general Ella is very resilient,” says Cosette, “however just recently she's begun questioning why she has to go through all this.

“Starlight brings happiness not only to sick children, but to their families who are along for the ride,” says Adrian.

“It builds resilience by allowing children to feel optimism during even the most difficult of times.”

Starlight CEO and Super Stepper Louise Baxter said: “The need for Starlight to brighten the lives of seriously ill children and their families is growing.

“It is this a great way to get fit and lift your spirits and will be help the wellbeing and resilience of sick kids. Please clock up those kilometres, however you can.”

Fundraisers will get Super Steps merchandise for reaching milestones. The first 1000 to register receive a free pair of socks and can earn t-shirts, medals and entry into the VIP Star Steppers Club.

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