Roosters fan flying high

Family of League provided two Roosters fans a ‘morning of a lifetime’, by arranging a visit to the Chooks’ Captains Run and meeting their coach and players. However, these were not average Sydney City fans, read on as dad, James, shares his daughter’s life-long issues and how Family of League provided them a special and much-appreciated experience:

“Now that we have arrived back in Armidale I wanted to write an email expressing our very sincere thanks to you and the rest of the Family of League team. Olive has definitely had such an amazing time and we are confident that she will have made memories to last a lifetime. Thank you for the effort and generosity that was shown towards my family. It really does mean a great deal to us to see Olive happy and feeling extra special. As I mentioned to you, she has had some rough news in the past week with another lot of major reconstructive surgery now required for her to breathe and live safely and tracheostomy free. 

It has been such a long and incredibly challenging road over the past 10 years since Olive was born. Here is just a snapshot of her story.

Olive was born 13th of November 2013 in Armidale and was immediately unable to breath. What is usually a time of joy and celebration very quickly turned as panicked doctors and other medical staff ran into the room and worked on keeping Olive alive, eventually intubating her so that she could breathe. Later that night Olive and I (Mum, Renee, had undergone a caesarean and cold not travel) were airlifted to John Hunter Childrens Hospital in Newcastle. What we thought might be a quick visit to Newcastle to remove whatever was blocking Olive’s airway became a three month stay much of which in Intensive Care as doctors struggled to diagnose and treat her condition.

She eventually left with a tracheostomy which she had for 9 of her 10 years of life, recently having to have it reinserted after her condition deteriorated late in 2023.

Caring for a young child with a tracheostomy is difficult, dangerous and unrelenting. Olive required vigilant 24 hour care and this was almost solely provided by my wife and I as it was very difficult to source someone to relieve us. On three occasions over these early years Olive’s tube blocked unexpectedly and she required emergency CPR to revive her. As you could imagine sleep and normal family life was very challenging and limited. Due to her obstruction Olive was also unable to speak or make any oral noise until she was four years old so her early years were spent signing.

Over her life, Olive has spent a significant amount of time in hospital. A common cold or infection is quite serious to her and has often led to treatment in intensive care and long hospital stays. On top of this Olive has had several major reconstructive surgeries to try and allow her to live a safe and normal life. These are complex and demanding surgeries where her airway is reconstructed with cartilage harvested from her ribs. Each time she has endured one these operations she has spent many weeks in hospital and been very weak and fragile once discharged.

While these surgeries have improved Olive’s condition, unfortunately they haven’t been successful in completely repairing her airway. She did enjoy a year of tracheostomy free life back in 2022/23, but her condition deteriorated late 2023 and her tracheostomy had to be reinserted early this year.

In all, it has been a very long and extremely tough journey for her…yet through all of this she is an amazing little girl, so positive, happy and determined to do well in life and make the absolute most of it!

Chris, Trent and the Roosters boys were all so generous with their time and were very kind to Olive. Spending time with them at training and watching the game gave her an enormous lift and made her feel very special. Olive’s smile over those couple of days and whenever we mention them since has said it all! As a longtime Roosters fans, (myself about 40 years and Olive going on 11..hahaha) we have not had the opportunity to watch many Roosters games live. The Anzac game was my second and Olive’s first so the whole experience really was a big deal for us. Having been to the game, it has inspired us both to try and find a way to get to more games and continue to support the mighty Roosters. 

Again, thank you very much for organising such memorable experience for Olive. We look forward to catching up with you next time we are down in Sydney.”

Thank you, James, glad we could assist… we wish you and your wonderful daughter, Olive, the best of health and a fantastic future.

(Pictured top L-R) Sydney City players provide signatures to Olive. (Bottom L-R) James, Olive and Coach Trent. National Events and Partnership Manager Doug Keen, Olive and her dad, James.