Monthly Archives: July 2022

A lady is kneeling by a gravestone, there are balloons tied to it of a 2 and a 1 for his 21st birthday. The sun is shining.

Celebrating Nathan’s 21st birthday

Birthday celebrations come in all shapes and sizes.

For Very Special Kids bereaved mum, Eli, it was important that her family could celebrate and honour the birthday of her late son Nathan, who would have turned 21 this year.

Nathan had a rare form of bone cancer, called Osteosarcoma, and sadly died in 2018. Speaking on his milestone birthday, Eli shares:

“It was Nathan’s 21st birthday on the 5th of July and I didn’t know how we would celebrate it.

I went to and fro on whether to celebrate it, since it’s meant to be such a joyous occasion, but he is no longer with us. How do we make it special for Nathan, as though he was here? I know it would have been his wishes, so I put my emotions aside and decided it was the right thing to do.

An image of the sun shining on a gravestone, with balloons attached of a 2 and a 1 for his 21st birthdayMy daughter (Steph) asked whether it was a good idea to have it on his actual birthday and I had to think about it and decided it was going to be on that day. Steph and I went to the cemetery and put his 21st balloons at his gravesite. We had such a laugh since it was so windy, we couldn’t get a good shot but, Nathan must have helped since Steph got the best pic as if there was no wind at all!

We then went home and decorated the house with another 21st balloon, green decorations (his favourite colour!), plus his favorite Krispy Kreme donut cake. The family came over and we played Nathan’s music and looked at photos and videos on the TV. It turned out to be a happy occasion and I’m so glad I did it.

When you feel you are not sure what you should do, go with your heart, and know that you are making the right decision, enjoy knowing that your child would be very proud of you for doing something that is completely out of your comfort zone…you won’t be disappointed.”

A pile of donuts on a plate with a 21st sign and birthday candlesVery Special Kids have supported Nathan’s family since 2017. We provide clinical, emotional and practical support for families through life, death and bereavement – for as long as they need.  

Grief and loss is an ongoing and complex experience, our practitioners respond to the needs of everyone in the family, including siblings and wider support network to help them navigate the ongoing journey of grief with safety and support.

At Very Special Kids, we are working to make the world a better, more supportive and knowledgeable place for families who are suffering through the death of a child or young person.

Image of the people entering The George on Collins. There is a Very Special Kids banner at the top of the staircase.

Dining for a cause

Over the weekend, our supporting partner, The George on Collins, hosted Gather to Give – a delectable evening of fine food and delicious cocktails for Very Special Kids. The event raised a staggering $140,000 for children and young people who have complex, life-limiting conditions, and their families.  

The exclusive one-night only event featured fine dining, music, and a live prize auction, all to support Very Special Kids in providing the best practice holistic paediatric palliative care across Victoria.  

Very Special Kids parents, Dean and Marissa, kindly joined the evening to speak in memory of their daughter Allegra, who had a form of epilepsy called Dravet Syndrome. Dean shared: 

“Allegra had some pretty serious moments in her life. Many seizures each day, a lot of it couldn’t be controlled with her medication. It’s just one of those life-changing conditions. We miss her every day. We get so much support from Very Special Kids, probably wouldn’t have coped as easily if we didn’t”.

Two adults and two children are standing outside, the adults are holding the children on their hip. There are trees in the background and they are smiling at the camera.

Thank you, The George On Collins, in-kind supporters, chefs and entertainers who made this evening possible. Your generous contribution to Very Special Kids, helped raise vital awareness and funds for the essential services we provide to Victorian families facing the most difficult of times. 

Masterchef alumni Khanh Ong, Adam D’Sylva and Christy Tania joined the George on Collins’ head chef Kingsley Heron in the kitchen to offer a dynamic, collaborative menu showcasing their skills. DJ Havana Brown and Kimba Ward provided electric live musical entertainment throughout the evening.  

Collage of three images - two of people speaking to the audience in front of a Very Special Kids banner, and one of a DJ performing.

Without the empathetic and dedicated support of organisations like The George on Collins, Very Special Kids would not be able to provide the best quality clinical, emotional and practical support families need to navigate childhood life-limiting illness.  

A group of adults are seated on the balcony of Very Special Kids, they are smiling at the camera. In the background construction of the new hospice can be seen.

Our Very Special Guardians

Our Founder and Patron, Sister Margaret Noone AM, recently hosted a high tea to acknowledge and celebrate the Very Special Guardians who have made an everlasting impact through a gift in their Will.  

Wills are a wonderful opportunity to take comfort in knowing that the people that matter to you the most, benefit from your life’s work exactly as you would wish. When you add a charity you care for, such as Very Special Kids, Wills are also an incredibly powerful tool for positive change. 

Sister Margaret shares, “A gift in your Will is the most joyful thing. It gives those of us blessed with longer lives the chance to share our good fortune with children and families whose time together may be fleeting.” 

During the high tea our Very Special Guardians kindly shared their ‘why’ for joining our generous circle of donors. We received colourful, varied and thoughtful responses;  

“I used to be a part-time crew member on a [restored] 1890s yacht called “Waitangi” and once a week we would take Very Special Kids families on a twilight cruise. I saw firsthand the wonderful job VSK did. Donate, as well as leave gift in will.” 

“Because you do such an important job in the worst circumstances families could ever face. Thank you.” 

“Leaving a bequest is something I feel everyone has the opportunity to do, at whatever financial level to set an example to family members to always give back to others.” 

After 17 years of volunteering and supporting families of Very Special Kids I cannot praise what they do and their holistic approach more and decided that they need all the financial I can give.” 

By leaving a gift in their Will, our Very Special Guardians can ensure Very Special Kids is there, beyond their lifetime to continue to provide vital support to children with life-limiting conditions and their families. 

We appreciate that leaving a gift in your Will is a big decision to make, it is important to research and understand your options, so you can make the best decision for yourself and your loved ones. Every gift, big and small, can make an incredible difference. 

Learn more about the Gift in Will program here.