This time last year, Ivy was in the hospital.
Sick and miserable and unsure if she was going to make it to her ballet concert -
we spent a lot of time focusing on all of the good things in life.
Concentrating on things that made Ivy feel happy.
Of those, was the most looked forward to event of the year.
This was not a wish made lightly by the small girl
who took her time and dreamt big
and finally announced that her wish was to dance with The Australian Ballet at The Opera House.
It was a very big wish for a tiny dancer
but The Starlight Children’s Foundation made it happen
and Ivy’s wish came true.
Still today, when there are terrible days in the hospital
when there are times that are just too much
we think about the wish
and use its memory to get us through.
So this year, when Starlight approached me to ask if Ivy would be ‘the face’ of their Christmas campaign
I said yes.
How could I not?
Starlight has been a part of our journey for as long as I can remember.
The Captains at John Hunter Children’s Hospital would often bring joy and laughter
into our room.
Sometimes sitting with Ivy and I while we waited for surgery,
often leaving stickers and messages to brighten our day.
This year when we were in the hospital for eight weeks
they helped to decorate Ivy’s room with streamers for Easter
and made bonnets.
There is a Starlight room, that all of the other kids have visited
so they could have down time from the hospital setting,
so they could just relax and be kids.
The Captains are the happiness makers on days when there feels like there is none left
so it seemed like an opportunity to give a little back when we were asked.
This is the poster that you might see, if you happen to be at Sydney airport.
Both domestic an international terminals.
You can’t miss them – they’re quite huge.
There are also donation boxes in all of the stores inside the airport, with the same photo.
On Thursday we were all lucky enough to be invited to the official launch of the campaign
and I was able to speak about the importance of a wish.
We set off early for the airport
and one of the first things we saw on arrival was Ivy’s poster,
by the massive Christmas tree at the international terminal.
All of the kids were pretty excited to see it,
especially the girl
and just quietly I was too – I get a real kick seeing one of my photos in print.
We met some of the the lovely Starlight people
and soon after we met Peter – the man who manages the mammoth task of running the international terminal.
Starlight had organised for our family to have a tour.
Peter is the most passionate man I have ever met when it comes to his job.
Imagine the time management skills you would need to run a place like an airport.
Noah and Mal were in heaven.
Noah asked a million questions, imparted his extensive (for an almost seven year old) knowledge about aircraft on Peter,
who took it all in his stride and answered every single ask
and explained things in intricate detail.
The last area we toured was the Operations Centre.
All of the kids, Dave and I loved that
and Noah declared that he was done for the day and would just stay where he was.
He was as happy as a pig in mud.
His mind exploding with new possibilities of becoming a pilot
or even running the place, just like his new hero, Peter.
We had to keep moving though as we still had a full and exciting day ahead.
We were ushered into a VIP room – one where all the celebrities stay to freshen up before they exit the terminal.
Lily was excited to hear that One Direction (the boy band) had stayed in the very same room.
Ivy thought that was pretty special too.
We said goodbye to Peter
and got to know Steph and Sophie – our beautiful new friends from Starlight, a little better.
Such kind women, who truly believe in Starlight Children’s Foundation and all that they do for the kids.
Steph had a soft spot for Noah (which was lucky because Noah most definitely felt the same way about her).
Before we knew it, it was time to go outside for the launch.
The beauty of Starlight is that no matter how serious the task, it is always for the kids
and this was no exception.
The Australian Girls Choir was there, singing Christmas carols
and Santa was there too.
The biggest drawcard for Ivy and Noah (and the older kids too)
were the Captains (sorry Santy).
As soon as Ivy and Noah saw the purple and gold uniforms
they were immediately drawn to them.
Captain Courageous and Captain Dash were kept busy making balloon animals and swords.
I often wonder what it would take to be the kind of person called into a position like that.
All of the Captains that I’ve met over the years seem to genuinely care about the kids.
and almost have a Peter Pan quality to them
which is most evident when you see the faces of the kids light up whenever there is a Captain around.
The collaboration between Sydney Airport and Starlight is huge.
and so I wanted my speech to show how good a wish, for a family like ours, could be.
I wanted everyone to see that it wasn’t only the wish itself but all of the planning and the memories that were important too.
My speech is here:
all 6 minutes and 40 seconds of it if you want to watch.
I’d like to say that everyone was struck silent as I retold our story but that isn’t the case.
When I asked Noah what he thought of my talk he said it was good
but the sword fight with Mal was better.
After all of the formalities
and giving thanks
and playing with the Starlight Star
we made our way over to Randwick Children’s Hospital to shoot some video footage for the campaign.
We had already met Captain Gigantor before
but Ivy is incredibly shy, especially in new environments
so he went straight to work, breaking the ice.
He is such a kind spirited man that it didn’t take long at all
and soon there was cheeky banter between the two about whether Rudolf’s nose was actually blue or orange
Ivy was rolling her eyes and giggling
and looking at the Captain as if he were insane.
Of course Rudolf’s nose is red, everybody knew that.
While all of this was going on the vidiographer and her crew had been quietly seeting up in the room
and recording footage of the children playing.
Noah was thrilled to be recorded playing his heart out on the drum kit.
It really was very clever how they achieved the footage they wanted.
At one stage Captain Gigantor ran a game of ‘Simon Says’
to be able to shoot video of the kids laughing and being silly
It was pretty cool to watch.
Behind the scenes there were still activities and fun things happening all the time
and Ivy had a ball.
In actual fact, Ivy was in awe of all of the goings on in the Starlight room because it was the first time she had ever been in one.
The very nature of immune deficiency prevents her and she is always isolated in a hospital room.
The Captains come to visit her -
so this was a real treat.
Next up the crew needed specific footage and that’s where Ivy had to concentrate on words
and looking at the camera.
I loved that they included Noah in everything
and when Mal wanted to join in (after he’d had his fill of the play station) they invited him in too.
I have to say, for a shy little poppet, she did very very well
and I was so proud of her for using her big voice.
Things were going really well
until suddenly they just weren’t.
The girl had been running a fever in the morning
and my trusty Panadol-Neurofen cocktail had done it’s job well
until early afternoon
when Ivy declared she was very tired and not feeling so good.
Starlight were wonderful though
and we called it a day very soon after that.
It was an amazing day,
with so many new experiences.
Ivy did climb down from Dave’s arms for one last goodbye though
and then slept all the way home.
When she is having a good day, it’s easy to forget how sick she actually is.
I know that it’s Christmas time
and funds might be very tight
but if you’re able
I’d love you to consider donating to Starlight.
It’s largely because of people just like you,
that made Ivy’s wish a possibility.
Most of you all know Ivy’s story but you can see it here
and make a donation there too if you want.
There are opportunities for companies and friends to create a ‘crew’ and a goal to raise money too.
Out of all of this -
this wonderful day
I’ve learnt how much it’s about the good hearted people in this world
who donate -
that make all of these wishes possible
and for that I’m very grateful
and want to say thank you.
From the very bottom of my heart -