It was an enormous 2016 for Hyundai’s inspirational Help for Kids program. And 2017 looks like being even bigger and brighter.
Another year of milestones for Hyundai Help for Kids has ended and what’s likely to be an even bigger one has begun.
Thanks to contributions from the Hyundai national Dealer network, which Hyundai Motor Company Australia matches dollar-for-dollar, Hyundai’s inspiring charitable initiative to help children in need contributed more than $1,462,290 during 2016 to its far-reaching expanded network of 23 children’s charities. It was its largest annual contribution since Hyundai Help for Kids was launched in 2014.
Last year also was an uplifting year – in more ways than one – for incredibly worthy Hyundai Help for Kids beneficiary Little Wings.
The not-for-profit organisation that helps transport sick kids and their family members from regional and remote areas of NSW to city-based specialist medical treatment free of charge provides a truly vital service. During 2016 alone Little Wings operated 360 flights transporting 841 passengers, helping 69 families and covering more than 300,000km in the air and, via its Hyundai support vehicles, on-road.
Its destinations read like a geographical checklist of regional and remote NSW place names. From Armidale and Barradine, through Moree and Moruya, to Walgett and West Wyalong – and many more often-remote locations in between – Little Wings flies to them all.
Yes, Little Wings is one of the essential services Hyundai Motor Company Australia is proud to support and an integral component of Hyundai Help for Kids.
Established in 2011 and operational since 2012, Little Wings uses its Piper Malibu Mirage light plane – flown by a roster of volunteers, each with commercial pilots’ licences – to transport sick kids and family members to either Bankstown Airport, in Sydney, or Maitland Airport, in the Hunter Valley. From there, passengers are chauffeured in an Hyundai-supplied iMax or Santa Fe to Westmead Children’s Hospital, The Children’s Hospital at Randwick, or, from Maitland Airport to The John Hunter Hospital for Children, Newcastle, where they will undergo specialist medical treatment.
Little Wings’ support helps sick children, often with immune systems too weak for commercial travel, or whose families are strained by the financial burden or sheer time involved in road travel over long distances to undertake their urgent treatment. And, of course, it helps keep families together during emotionally draining times most of us would find difficult to imagine.
It’s a clockwork operation that’s universally praised by the social workers, doctors and nurses involved and, of course, the sick children and families Little Wings supports. And it’s an operation in which Hyundai Help for Kids plays a crucial role.
“Hyundai Help for Kids makes a huge contribution to us, and not just in terms of providing our road transport,” says Little Wings managing director, Richelle Koller. “They help us in so many other ways as well, including with our marketing and videography as well as through a grant which helps cover a lot of the operational costs of all our vehicles. We’re extremely grateful to them.”
Little Wings’ managing director of almost two years’ standing, Richelle says hers is more than just a job. “It’s truly inspirational work for me and everyone in our organisation,” she says. “I can’t tell you how much satisfaction all of us at Little Wings get from seeing the families we help and hearing how much our work means to them. I’m inspired by their appreciation and by seeing how hard our team works to help them.”
Richelle Koller says one incident from 2016 amply illustrates the lengths Little Wings goes to in its efforts to keep families together in their time of need.
“This particular case involved a family with five young girls whose farm was in Central West NSW,” she says. “Unfortunately, one of the sisters suffered from leukaemia and had been at Westmead Children’s Hospital for many months, with her mother by her side. The other sisters had to relocate, to stay with their aunt at Orange while their father worked the family farm.
“We were able to pick up the father at Forbes, fly across to Orange to collect the four young sisters, then fly them all to Sydney.
“The family eventually was reunited at Westmead after four long months’ separation. It was a highly emotional reunion and definitely an honour for us to be able to help make it possible.”
Heart-warming testimonials on Little Wings’ website www.littlewings.org.au speak volumes. Here are just a few excerpts:
“Without Little Wings, we’d be lost in a world of expensive fuel receipts, broken-down cars, uncertainty and stress.”
“Not only did their plane fly to Lismore to pick us up, but once at Bankstown Airport, we were transported directly to Ronald McDonald House. And all at no cost to us. Our eight-hour travel days had been reduced to three hours, which is amazing, especially when travelling with a young child.”
“Little Wings has been a true blessing to our family. Whether it be flying Sam home to spend a weekend with his brother and sister, or flying him down to Sydney for clinic and scans, we would be lost without them. Sam has a long road ahead of him, but having Little Wings to help will make the journey a little easier.”
And perhaps most touching of all: “The sheer joy and laughter every time Little Wings brings us home is a magical moment we cherish.”
What could be more worthwhile than that?
Little Wings is just one important element of Hyundai Motor Company Australia’s broad-ranging and truly inspirational Hyundai Help for Kids program. Hyundai Help for Kids is there to assist with flights and accommodation via Little Wings, Ronald McDonald House and other affiliated havens for sick children and their families. It’s there to help fund research and equipment needed to combat life-threatening childhood illnesses. It’s even there via the incredible Clown Doctors to help entertain kids in hospital in inimitable style. The program also plays an active role at a community level by encouraging children to participate in sport and the challenge of making healthy lifestyle choices.
Hyundai Help for Kids is there to lend a helping hand when it’s needed most.
For more information about Hyundai Help for Kids, click here.