Coronavirus tests ability of charities to raise money

Little Wings gets lift with $200,000 grant from NSW Government

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NSW Regional Youth Minister Bronnie Taylor hands over the $200,000 grant from the NSW Government to Little Wings chief executive Clare Pearson, with East Hills MP Wendy Lindsay, at Bankstown aerodrome on Wednesday. The grant will enable Little Wings to keep transporting regional children to hospitals in the city for specialist treatments. Photo by Richard Shute.

NSW Regional Youth Minister Bronnie Taylor hands over the $200,000 grant from the NSW Government to Little Wings chief executive Clare Pearson, with East Hills MP Wendy Lindsay, at Bankstown aerodrome on Wednesday. The grant will enable Little Wings to keep transporting regional children to hospitals in the city for specialist treatments. Photo by Richard Shute.

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Important regional child air transport group gets support

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For charities and not-for-profit groups providing essential community services, the coronavirus crisis has cut heavily into their fundraising activities that they rely on.

Little Wings is one of those groups who has been hit by the fundraising fall-out, but on Wednesday it received a $200,000 boost from the NSW Government to help it continue its valuable work for sick rural and regional children.

Little Wings was established in 2012 to help rural children access specialist health services in Sydney by air, originally in conjunction with the Westmead Children's Hospital but now linking with many of Sydney's Children's hospitals.

Last year, Little Wings delivered 477 missions and supported 105 families. Approximately 85 per cent of the patients it supports were children between the ages of 8-16.

On Wednesday, at the group's air base at Bankstown aerodrome, NSW Minister for Regional Youth Bronnie Taylor handed over a $200,000 cheque to help keep the service going.

"Serious illness can turn family life upside down, and for those who live in the regions there is the added challenge of a long journey to the right care. That's why it is critical that Little Wings can continue to help families in their hour of need," Mrs Taylor said.

"As a former nurse in regional NSW I know that for immune-compromised patients, the Covid-19 pandemic means safe transport by Little Wings is more crucial than ever.

"This funding also means that young regional patients don't have to experience the fatigue of a long trip to their treatment by public transport, and at the same time easing the financial burden on the family," Mrs Taylor said.

Member for East Hills Wendy Lindsay MP said she was proud to have the Bankstown Aerodrome based organisation in her electorate.

"Little Wings does such fantastic work, with the pilots and drivers donating their time," Mrs Lindsay said.

"This funding means that the operational costs of planes continuing to fly can still be met, so these young patients and their families will continue to get the help they need without any added stress and financial burden."

Dylan, 16, from Orange, is one of the young patients that Little Wings has helped.

He was born with a severe Pectus Excavatum, placing pressure on his heart and lungs, and needed specialist treatment in Sydney after major surgery.

This is his case reported on Little Wings website:

"At the age of 16, Dylan's doctor, Dr Karpelowsky recommended a Pectus Excavatum repair to improve the quality of his life. The surgery involved the insertion of a metal bar called a Nuss Bar from one side of the body to the other joined at the ribs.

"Post surgery, Dylan would need 8 weeks of bed rest and 6 months of restricted body movements. He was in severe pain and developed mucus on the lungs, causing a partial lung collapse.

"The physiotherapy was relentless but necessary. Dylan was determined to push through the pain and set his mind into action and focused on rehabilitation; at times the pain was so intense that to laugh was crippling. But Dylan met the challenge every day and fought for his recovery.

"Dylan used a square pillow to hold over his chest for compression at all times post surgery, protecting himself from the movement of others and to combat the internal pressure caused by coughing, sneezing or laughing. He had restricted movement of his arms for 8-weeks; only allowed to move his forearms from his elbows to hold his pillow against his chest. He could not carry his backpack, run or participate in other sporting activities for 6 months. But with time, physio and gumption, Dylan started to regain his strength, his mobility and prepare to ease himself back into his greatest sporting passions.

"Over the course of his treatment and journey to recovery, Dylan made many trips with Little Wings, often commenting that the thought of the bumpy roads home were too much to bear on his recovering body, and the Little Wings service allowed him to avoid these concerns time after time. Easing his mind and building confidence in his journey to and from home to Westmead Hospital.

"In 2020, Dylan will return to Westmead Hospital for the final step in his treatment, removal of Nuss Bar. A step that he approaches with trepidation and relief... and Little Wings will be there to support and see him soar to new heights and a bright and healthy future."

The organisation uses volunteer pilots and volunteer drivers. The drivers use a minivan to transport patients after they've arrived by air at Bankstown to the hospital they need to attend. The service is also available to regional children who need to access psychological services.

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