THE mother of bubbly little fighter Tahlea, defying medical odds in Perth, has been brought to tears with community support from Ballarat in Emma-Kate McGrath's name.
The 4EK foundation has made its first major donation to help a child affected by deadly bacterial disease meningococcal. Tahlea, who turned one this month, had contracted meningococcal septicaemia strain W - the same strain as Emma-Kate, who died age 19 almost two years ago.
Tahlea's mum said Emma-Kate's story gave her goosebumps - it was all too familiar.
Little Tahlea had been well when she went to bed on October 16. Her mum woke to a piercing scream from Tahlea's room at 4am and rushed in to find Tahlea pale, struggling to breathe and with two purple dots on her forehead.
An eight-month-old Tahlea was flown from her regional hospital in Geraldton to Perth Children's Hospital for emergency care.
Tahlea lost her fingers and toes, some of her limbs and has sustained severe brain damage. She will continue to need numerous operations, a wheelchair, prosthetics, and therapy throughout her lifetime.
"I’m so proud that you are all living her legacy on kicking goals and making change," she said.
"The hardest thing I've found since Tahlea becoming unwell was finances. Doctors and nurses keep telling me ‘Tahlea needs this’, ‘Tahlea needs that’. It's so hard when as a parent your sole job is to protect and provide for you child and I couldn’t protect her from this awful disease...I also need to provide her with a massive list of equipment that isn’t cheap."
I have no words for the generosity of you all, nothing I say will ever come close to how thankful and grateful we are.
A $15,000 to Tahlea's family is made in the spirit of Emma-Kate, who was studying nursing-paramedicine and had spent time volunteering in Cambodia. Family and friends say Emma-Kate was always striving to help people.
This is her legacy - family say this is what Emma-Kate would want and what she would be doing.
Help for Tahlea comes from 4EK's popular trucker cap sales across the region and last month's huge Keg for a Cause party at Shamrock Hotel in Dunnstown.
More than 600 trucker caps, sporting the 4EK logo, have been sold to help the foundation work with Meningococcal Australia in financially helping families affected by the disease with medical needs.
Tahlea and her family seemed the perfect first fit for the foundation's support.
The 4EK movement was sparked in the wake of Emma-Kate's death to push meningococcal awareness. Fundraising helped promote work of organisations like Meningococcal Australia, Meningitis Australia and The Violet Foundation to promote ACWY and B-strain vaccines.
Family and friends have been keen to shift 4EK's fundraising focus this year to helping children and families impacted by meningococcal while continuing to raise awareness of the deadly disease and immunisations.
“Emma was passionate about health and making a difference,” her mum Abby McGrath had told The Courier.
Family and friends behind the foundation say they know Emma-Kate will be watching over Tahlea and cheering on her recovery. Together they want to thank all in the community for "making a difference to a beautiful family in need in memory of Emma-Kate".
Since Emma-Kate’s death, a vaccine against A, C, W and Y strains of the disease has been added to the National Immunisation Program for infants.
Follow Tahlea’s journey on Facebook page Tahlea’s Tale.
The 4EK Facebook page has fast attracted followers worldwide, helped largely by social influencers and bloggers sharing the page.
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