Last Saturday we had the absolute pleasure of hosting a Superhero picnic as an early birthday celebration for BJ, with the aim of raising money for Bear Cottage (a children’s hospice). If you haven’t heard how we became connected to Bear Cottage I’ll catch you up. A couple of months ago one of our readers invited us to visit her at Bear Cottage, where she was staying with her daughter. You can read the full story here but the abridged version is, we were so impressed by the care which is offered to families, we were keen to help in some small way. So, on Saturday we held the first Have Wheelchair Will Travel Bear Cottage Superhero fundraiser.
We were lucky to have a sunny day for our picnic and chose a Touched By Olivia all abilities playground and park for the event. What a joyful day it was, filled with meeting new online friends, being reunited with friends from the past and connecting with online families I feel I should know, because we’ve been virtually “chatting” for years.
BJ is so social he was in his element making new friends and being reunited with old buddies.
Steve from Bugs About was the first person to put his hand up to help on the day. Steve dazzled the kids, and adults, with his pals and his knowledge of all things bugs.
Who wouldn’t be impressed by Rocky (pictured above) the world’s largest cockroach?
Batman and Batgirl proved even superheroes can be stopped in their tracks if given the opportunity to interact with bugs. Maybe that’s a tip for the villains in the next superhero movie.
In our final instructions to our readers we told them they would find us within the park by following the sound of the drums. Like a couple of pied pipers, Andrew and his friend David enthusiastically played the drums, luring our community, and a few curious onlookers, to us.
Andrew is a `world renown drummer living with cerebral palsy who now travels the world as a drummer. When we first “met” online it was before he and his wife Jenn took off on their first trip overseas. Now with several trips under his belt I regularly hear from Andrew about his travel plans and successes.
Music is a wonderful way of uniting people of all ages and abilities and the drums did just that.
Can anyone spot someone filming the festivities? I was contacted by Kathleen, an ABC journalist, who asked if she could come along and do some filming. We’re unsure at this point if this will become a story but Kathleen seems keen so we’ll let you know what eventuates.
It was so wonderful to see the joy the drums brought to our picnic. I’m not sure how our neighbouring picnic-goers felt about it but surely they could see the fun we were all having?
We were thrilled to have everyone at our picnic but we did have one little poppet who brought an extra smile to our faces when she arrived. Little Matilda, pictured below, with her Mum is the reason we had the picnic. When Liz invited us to visit them at Bear Cottage we came away with a real sense of what the staff provide to families with a life-limiting condition.
I kept in touch with Liz during the week leading up to the picnic. I knew they were hoping to come but Little Matilda had been in hospital for 2 weeks with at least another week to go. Everything came down to a doctor giving the okay for her to leave hospital for a few hours. When I saw little Matilda round the corner I was thrilled. It was good to see her and I was amazed to see Liz in the superhero theme despite being bedside in a hospital for the last 2 weeks.
The connections families make through shared experiences is invaluable. Having families in a similar situation to me when BJ was younger, and even now, helps avoid isolation. Often other parents are the source of information and solutions too. It was wonderful to see Peta (Mum to gorgeous Mia) and Liz (Mum to Matilda) together. Both their little girls live with Batten Disease. This rare genetic condition means Mia and Matilda, once healthy girls, over a few years have lost the ability to walk, talk, see and eat. This disease is life-limiting and as Peta once shared with us in a guest blog (read it here) a doctor told them “Mia probably won’t make it to high school, we are talking about years not decades”. I’m sharing this with you because after getting to know Mia and Matilda and their families, I’m determined to help them to continue to spread the word about Batten Disease. A cure must be found so other families and their little ones don’t go through this.
In the meantime, Bear Cottage provides a place where these families can have a break. Where they are supported by nursing staff in a lovely environment. A place where parents can return to being parents instead of carers. They can have fun with their child and make precious memories while getting a little rest.
Of course meeting friends, playing drums and learning about bugs is all good fun but a superhero picnic wouldn’t be complete without some super treats. We were fortunate to have some help in this area and there’s a list of thank you’s at the end of the blog.
For those wondering what you serve to superheroes at a picnic, we can share that Incredible Hulk jellies definitely make you strong and full of energy.
A Captain America fruit plate was a winner with growing superheroes with the marshmallows all being gobbled up and a particular favourite with Bat Girl. Go figure, I’d have thought she’d go for the fruit for sure!
Brownies were a winner with big and small superheroes.
Healthy food was popular, the super sweet mandarins a hit with all.
The red and blue icing on the delicious cupcakes made sure our superheroes had plenty of energy for drumming and playing in the playground.
The aim of the day was to raise money for Bear Cottage so Supergirl AJ was put in charge of the lucky door tickets and the raffle. She did a good job of selling tickets to our awesome raffle going the friendly rather than pushy approach.
BJ rather fancied drawing the lucky door prizes out of his hat at the picnic and drew the raffle winners last night.
And the winners are as follows –
First Prize – Katie Walker
Second Prize – Dimity Morris
Third Prize – Nick Robinson
Fourth Prize – Kate Seckolel
Please email me at havewchairwilltravel@gmail or privately message me on Facebook and I’ll organise to get your prize to you.
If you’ve ever organised a fundraiser I’m sure you’ll know there’s many people who contribute to make it great.
A big thanks to the following –
Steve Cross from Bugs About.
Andrew Hewitt, David, Jenn and Pat for making the drumming workshop possible. Please note Andrew offers all abilities drumming classes. You can speak to Andrew about classes by phoning him on 0420 718 089 or learn more about him here
Bianca & Michael from McGrath for the super cupcakes.
Harris Farm Markets for the 4 boxes of fruit.
AJ’s gorgeous Food Tech teacher who had Year 11 bake brownies for the day. Mrs A you are a legend.
My bestie through thick and thin, Fiona, who made the awesome Hulk jellies and the spectacular Captain America fruit platter.
Robyn & Bakers Delight for the bread and vegetarian scrolls for the day.
Coles for a $50 voucher to help with drinks and food.
Out & About with Kids for embracing accessible travel stories and for the magazines to share at the picnic and the DVDs for our raffle.
Featherdale Wildlife Park for 3 family passes.
Taronga Zoo for 3 family passes.
Sea Life Aquarium for 2 family passes.
Event Cinemas Macquarie Centre for 2 Gold Class passes.
Bupa Australia for toothbrushes, playing cards and $50 off optical vouchers.
Porter Novelli and “Warner Bros. Consumer Products” for our awesome superhero raffle prizes.
Blue Badge Insurance for the mobility stickers.
Our friends who lent us tables and other bits and bobs.
Our fabulous family who manned the BBQ and helped pack up.
My friend Christine who listened to me angst over every detail and then stayed to the end to pack up.
To everyone who came along and donated to Bear Cottage. Thank you also to the naughty people who also brought BJ a present. He loved them.
Lastly, a big thanks to Hubby, BJ, AJ and my parents for always backing me in my plans and projects. I’ve been juggling quite a bit lately and they’ve been there to help every inch of the way. They didn’t even judge me when I managed to forget it was BJ’s respite weekend and double-booked with the picnic.