Monthly Archives: March 2017

A Wonderful Walk for Phil

Recently on the 11th of March, around 140 people woke up much earlier than the sun and went for a very meaningful walk.

‘Walk for Phil’ was a 27km walk from Caulfield Racecourse to Moonee Valley Racecourse and finished at Flemington racecourse, just in time for ‘Super Saturday’.

The walk was organized in memory of the late Phil Sly, who was passionate about horse racing and helping provide life-changing differences for others. Phil held Very Special Kids close to his heart, 1 of the 3 charities the walk aimed to raise funds for.

The morning began at 5am and although it was warm, it sure was dark. Before setting off towards St Kilda walkers enjoyed some delicious bacon and egg rolls and coffee.

They arrived at the first check point before the sun had even risen and at the second check point in Docklands they got a ‘Walk for Phil’ class photo.

When they made it to Moonee Valley they decided to have an even longer rest, because they were so ahead of schedule. But when they finished at Flemington they ensured they all walked the last 500m as a group.

A big thank you to the Caulfield, Moonee Valley and Flemington Racecourses, as well as Melbourne Racing for your support.

All together the walk has raised $103, 992 and will be split between Very Special Kids, Pancare and Pinchapoo. This is an amazing effort, which everyone whom contributed to, should be proud of, as we’re sure Phil would be too.

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Meet some top fundraisers!

With the 24 Hour Treadmill challenge only 8 weeks away, we are getting super excited and eager to raise funds. Bosch has been extremely successful in their fundraising efforts so far, even so early on.

We had a chat with their team captain, Ya-Tai Huang, and she explained that through the effective use of emails, flyers and newsletters they have engaged a lot of staff members.

“We are most excited to be involved with Very Special Kids because we want to make a real difference within our local community to those who need it most” said Ya-Tai.

This will be Bosch’s first year participating in the challenge and it is great to see such enthusiasm.

They have had a lot of success with selling ex-demo products to staff members and putting the funds towards the challenge.

“People love a bargain and a good cause. Donations of goods and sales worked for us” said Ya-Tai.

Good luck to Bosch in the next two months- we cannot wait to meet you all!

Glen Osmond Farm: A home away from home for our families

Over 11 years ago Janet and Bernie Hawkins approached Very Special Kids with an incredible offer. One that meant the families and children we support, would have an amazing place to stay, free of charge, for peace, serenity and a much needed break. Over the past decade, the feedback from families has been nothing but positive and heart-warming.

“First and foremost thank you Very Special Kids for making such a lovely place available for families to stay. The facilities are more than adequate and the surroundings are picture perfect.”

-The Pickering Family

Located just over an hour north-west of Melbourne, in Woodend, Glen Osmond Farm features two purpose-built holiday cottages that can sleep up to eight people in three bedrooms. There is also a big barn on the property for entertainment.

Living in a city can sometimes be stressful alone, but when you have an ill family member, life only becomes more chaotic. Glen Osmond farm offers a home away from home, which inspires nothing but calmness, with its beautiful wide open rural surroundings, and views of Mount Macedon.

“As usual we are thrilled and excited to come to this place. The smell of the country side, fresh local food, relaxed population and the clear night stars brings serenity to our whole family, especially Taylah.”

-The Saiperry Family

The Hawkins, with the help of their networks in the Woodend community, ensured everything was accessible for everyone, offering everything they needed. They even have rescued sheep from Edgars Mission on the farm for the kids to feed. Families can make a small journey to Hanging Rock for an adventure, or sit in the al fresco dining area and watch the groups of kangaroo’s hop by.

 “What an amazing place to come to. The accommodation is perfect & has everything we need. The location was beautiful. So relaxing! Loved the Kangaroo’s and sheep. The kids just loved the barn and everything in it. Ellie giggles so much on the swing and watching us play table tennis. Thank you so much for a perfect getaway, we can’t wait to come back.”

-The Young Family

To find out more information about these holiday cottages, please call the Family Support Team Administrator on (03) 9804 6222.

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Chain Reaction Challenge raises more than $829k

After 1,025 kilometres ridden on hot and humid days, through rain-soaked hinterland, and challenging country roads, the Chain Reaction Challenge Victoria has raised more than $829,000 and still counting.

Thank you to everyone who donated and supported the event, we are so grateful for your generosity, kindness and support. A huge thank you to the amazing cyclists who participated, it was no doubt a challenging course and we commend you for your determination, endurance, passion and amazing fundraising efforts.

It’s thanks to these efforts that the 2017 Chain Reaction Challenge Victoria has been able to raise much needed funds for Very Special Kids and reach the fantastic $20Million milestone for total funds raised for children’s charities since 2007.

The funds raised from the Chain Reaction Challenge Victoria are the catalyst for a large and important upgrade to Very Special Kids hospice to ensure our charity can continue to provide benchmark standards of 24-hour nursing care for children with life-threatening conditions.

Read more on how the funding is helping support families of Very Special Kids:

For more information and to see photos from the Chain Reaction Vic ride, please click here.

Burgers, tunes and football – what a weekend!

Recently, on the 17th of March, four very special boys enjoyed a fun filled weekend together.

Ryan, Lachlan, Caleb and Ethan met at the Very Special Kids hospice in the early evening and made their way down to our local Grill’d in Malvern.  In the company of Very Special Kids nurses and volunteers they enjoyed some delicious burgers.

When they returned to the hospice they enjoyed some more treats, bonding over a movie together. When they woke up they got in touch with their creative side and wrote and recorded songs with our on-site music therapist Michelle. For lunch the boys enjoyed making their own pizzas with the assistance of the hospice staff.

The highlight of the weekend however, was catching the train to AAMI Park and getting to see the soccer! The boys enjoyed watching Melbourne City vs. Newcastle and especially liked the spirited crowd.

A big thank you to Melbourne City Football Club for the support, the boys loved their show bags and the experience would not have been possible without the generosity of the club.

Mates Weekends are designed to bring together children who have high cognitive ability and are facing similar physical challenges. The weekend gave the boys a chance to bond and feel at ease in their company.

If you are interested in finding out about the next Mates Weekend contact your family support worker or the Very Special Kids hospice on 03 9804 6218. Note this is a private event for families supported by Very Special Kids only.

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Family Fun in the North West

Last Saturday a Family Day was hosted at the Glen Osmond Farm in Woodend by Very Special Kids. The day gave families from the region a chance to see the beautiful cottages and facilities that they can stay in with no charge, for some peace and quiet.

The day included many fun-filled activities including a mobile animal farm, face painting, crafts, feeding the farm sheep and bike riding.

The highlights of the day however, were seeing the ecstatic children cuddling the animals with their professionally painted faces, beaming proudly. A couple of animals however, had a different idea, with a chicken on the loose and a goat following quickly behind.

It was great to see all of the families come together from all different areas of the North West region and socialise with a chance to share their unique experiences, in such a picturesque setting.

The Hall family were one of many whom attended and mother Debbie said that they had a “lovely Saturday, with the kids, Connor and Keeley especially enjoying themselves at the patting farm.

It was nice to attend something a bit closer to home as coming into Malvern can be a bit of a trek.” Debbie explained.

The day couldn’t have happened without the special volunteers, Janet Hawkins and her friend Ro from Woodend, Cake Angels, Parklands Animal Farm, Joe the Cleaner at Glen Osmond, Puchi’s children Jaxson and Lily, and of course the Mobile Coffee Van. Thanks for all of the free Slurpee’s!

To find out more information about these wonderful holiday cottages surrounded by a rural haven, please call the Family Support Team Administrator on (03) 9804 6222.

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A very special partnership with Toyota

Recently, professional cricket player Hayleigh Brennan from the Melbourne Stars visited Very Special Kids for a game of cricket all thanks to our long standing supporter Southern Region Toyota, and Cricket Victoria.

The opportunity came about after Toyota was offered a ‘money can’t buy experience’ from Cricket Victoria and they generously decided to give back to some very special children and their families.

The afternoon was spent playing some tip and run backyard cricket and children staying at Very Special Kids Hospice plus their siblings enjoyed joining in on all the action.

Many chronically ill children who stay at Very Special Kids Hospice live extremely different lives to other kids their age. For these children to relax and enjoy a fun afternoon playing cricket, the value can never be underestimated.

We wish to thank Toyota Southern Region for their long standing support and for making this opportunity possible.

The six year partnership begun after the Toyota Southern Region finance team participated in the 24 Hour Treadmill Challenge and has now grown to see Toyota support many other key fundraising initiatives; the Piggy Bank Appeal, Footy Fever Debate and Fashion Sale.

To find out more information on potential partnership opportunities with Very Special Kids, please click here or contact Adisa Hubanic on or 9804 6227.

Very Special Kids Golf Day raises $30k

A keen group of golfers enjoyed a fun day out on the green while pitching and putting their way to raising $30,000 net at the recent Very Special Kids Golf Day

Held at Woodlands Golf Club, the day is sponsored by OHM and all funds raised go to Very Special Kids to help support children with life-threatening conditions, and their families.

A special thank you to Russell Robertson our MC, Luke Young for sharing his story and Peter Thackrah for entertaining us. Congratulations to all golf winners too!

Thank you to our major sponsor OHM for their ongoing support, our hole sponsors Ernst & Young and Elephant & Co plus our supporting sponsors Woodlands, GolfSelect, Lion, Globe, Premium Chocolate and Asahi.

Self-care and exploration at Sibling Camp

When a child has a life-threatening condition, we often forget about the stress this can place on the whole family, let alone their siblings. For them, it can often be a time of great confusion and resentfulness so it’s important to reduce any sense of isolation and encourage peer support.

Adolescent Sibling Camp

Recently, 30 adolescent siblings went on a two night camp in Locksley, Northern Victoria. The campsite was called “Bannister’s Place” and it provided the perfect backdrop for young people to take some time out to relax, explore their emotions and connect with others who are facing similar challenges.

The focus of this year’s camp was self-care and exploration, and included a range of activities designed to give young people strategies for how to care for themselves and deepen their awareness around their own inner strength and resilience.

Special highlights

Saturday’s highlights included cooling off in the pool with plenty of time for socializing and relaxing. That evening we harnessed the power of the group for a sing along to David Guetta‘s – Titanium. So much heart and soul went into belting this out as the sun set and lightening cracked over the fields.

On Sunday there was a Mind Body and Soul festival where adolescents had the opportunity to wander between six activity stations exploring themes related to spirituality, soulfulness, mindfulness, body mapping, writing and the power of nature’s talisman’s.

Another highlight was creating a beautiful group Mandala which young people were encouraged to contribute to across the weekend. The Mandala symbolized the shared connection with one another and reminded us that even though many things in life are impermanent, there’s plenty of beauty to be found in the present moment. Dismantling the Mandala at the end of the weekend taught us the power of letting go.

Special thank you

A special thank you to Mike and Jenni Bannister, the owners of Bannister’s Place who donated the use of their campsite, Matt Young from Melbourne Meditation Centre, Michelle Fisher our fabulous music therapist plus the 12 amazing volunteers who helped throughout the weekend.


“This camp allowed me to get away and spend time with people who really understand my situation. This camp was such a safe place and I felt so supported.”

“Camp is an opportunity to get away from everyday life and its struggles. But it’s also a chance to explore those struggles safely with so much love and support. It’s a chance to be involved and to be a part of something. It’s an experience like no other.”

“This camp is a great way to connect with people that have been through similar experiences, which brings you closer as a group and it ends up feeling like a family.”

“It means the world. I haven’t been to many camps but coming feels like freedom to me.”

“Camp is something I look forward to all year. It’s a place where I can be myself and not be judged. I always feels so supported.”

“This camp means making new friends, teamwork, talking about problems/issues and having fun.”

To find out more information about Very Special Kids Sibling Support Program, please call the Duty Worker on (03) 9804 6222 or download the Sibling Support Program fact sheet.

Jaylen’s story – riding the extra mile

Six year old Jaylen Cornish is a happy kid that loves the outdoors, being around other people and playing Xbox but he also requires 24 hour care for his basic needs.

Jaylen was born with gastroschesis which is a birth defect of the abdominal wall. It meant that as a baby his intestines stuck outside of his body through a hole beside his belly button.

“When I was 28 weeks pregnant I was told he would have a very slim chance of survival” says mother Katie, “but he made it and as soon as he was born he was rushed to surgery.”

Jaylen spent the first four years of his life continuously in hospital, constantly in and out of surgery to try fix his condition.

Being 19 years old at the time, Katie quickly learnt she would be facing challenges that others her age could never even imagine.

“I had to learn to grow up very quickly. I knew Jaylen wasn’t going to be coming home so I moved house to be closer to him and start a new life at the hospital.”

Four years and 35 surgeries later and Jaylen was discharged, but the challenges did not stop there.

“I had to do months of training in order to take him home and be his fulltime carer. I learnt everything to be able to manage his condition, from connecting fluids to performing medical procedures in a sterile environment”

Because of his complex medical needs, if Jaylen were to get any small infection his life would be in jeopardy.

“It was very confronting and emotionally difficult. I knew that my son’s life was now in my hands and if something were to go wrong I could lose him.

It was the hardest thing I have ever gone through aside from seeing Jaylen go through the pain.”

Katie then discovered Very Special Kids which meant she could access respite care at Very Special Kids Hospice and emotional support.

“The Hospice is like a vacation for Jaylen, he loves all the attention he gets from the nurses and going for walks in the garden. It also means I can get some time off. ”

“The support I receive through my Family Support Practitioner is great, there’s always someone to talk to and I feel very comfortable.”

Katie also has a Very Special Kids volunteer named Amy who visits their house and plays with Jaylen so she can have a much needed break

“Amy is an amazing help. Having a sick child means you have to give up many things but when Amy comes it means I can free up time to play sport and do things I enjoy, it’s my outlet.”

Unsure of what the future will bring, Katie says she holds on to hope and keeps a positive outlook.

“Looking at my son now and knowing he’s beaten all the odds is what gets me through the day. He gives me strength”

Ride the extra mile to support sick children like Jaylen.

On the 11-17 March the Chain Reaction Ultimate Corporate Bike Challenge is taking place to raise funds for sick children like Jaylen. To sponsor a rider or to make a donation please click here.

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