WHEN Matt Thiele found Ballarat’s K.I.D.S Foundation, he finally got his smile back.
Matt, now 18, was only three when he received 30 per cent full-thickness burns, mainly to his face and arms, in a car accident.
He spent the next three-and-a-half months in the Royal Children’s Hospital, and had daily check-ups and regular operations after he left.
“Even though I was at a young age, I was still aware of my appearance and the reactions of those around me, glares and such,” Matt said.
“Because of this, I didn’t like to go outside at all and, if I did, I would only go to school or church. Those were the places I was most comfortable with.”
But once he discovered the K.I.D.S Foundation, Matt realised he had nothing to be afraid of.
“I started to go out of my comfort zone and began to really live my life. I found myself meeting new people and making good friends.
“K.I.D.S has done a lot for me. They’ve helped me build up my confidence to speak and therefore help raise funds in the process.”
After completing his VCE last year at Belgrave High School, Matt has now become the foundation’s burn survivors network project co-ordinator, working in Ballarat two days a week.
Matt is also the ambassador for the upcoming Heroes 4 Kids Breakfast on Friday, March 21 at Encore at the St Kilda Sea Baths.
He will be joined by fellow ambassadors, Ballarat Olympian Steve Moneghetti and world champion ironman and triathlete Craig Alexander.
Tickets, which are $70 for breakfast and entertainment, are available at www.kidsfoundation.org.au
Matt will also be the ambassador for the 2014 Ride2Port Cycle Challenge, beginning in Byron Bay on April 28 and ending in Port Macquarie on May 1.
Sponsor GIANT is looking for six cyclists willing to be part of their team, with GIANT paying the $500 registration fee and supplying a $2700 road bike.
For more information, go to