Matthews Steer GM Catherine Duncan and Head of Private Wealth Anthony Flapper joined Collingwood's Jaidyn Stephenson and 300 guests, who stepped up to support Heart Kids and at the charity's annual 'Off The Cuff' fundraising lunch in February.
Heart Kids ambassador and Collingwood forward Stephenson was diagnosed with a genetic form of arrhythmia, which he shares with his sister and mother, when he was 18 years old.
A stand-out junior AFL prospect, he had a life-long dream to play football professionally. “I wasn’t too concerned about my diagnosis, but there were times where I worried that I might not get drafted,” Stephenson told guests at the lunch. “To be told I had heart condition and might not be able to live out my dream was a bit of a blow.”
Happily, the talented young footballer shone at draft combine testing in October 2017, with top 10 finishes in the Yo-Yo Intermittent test and 2km time trial and the 20m sprint, attracting Collingwood’s attention.
He was the Magpies first pick in the 2017 draft, sixth overall, going on to become the first Collingwood player in history to win the AFL Rising Star Award following an outstanding 2018 home and away season.
“Collingwood took a chance on me and hopefully I will be able to repay that,” said Stephenson at the Heart Kids lunch. “I didn’t want to let my condition stop me, because I’d dreamed of playing AFL for so long. I didn’t want to go to university and sit at work at a desk or pushing wheelbarrows. To get so close and have it taken away from me would have been heartbreaking.”
Stephenson praised the work Heart Kids does in supporting children with Congenital Heart Disease (CHD) and their families. “Helping people through their journey with CHD is so important and Heart Kids is there every step of the way making life better for kids with CHD,” he said.
This year’s Heart Kids luncheon was dedicated to raising funds for Heart Kids’ Teen Camps. Open to heart teens between the ages of 13 and 17 years, Teen Camps are a unique opportunity for heart teens to connect with others who may share their experiences of CHD, to develop new friendships, and to create ongoing peer
support networks. Importantly, Teen Camp gives heart teens the chance to attempt physical and team building activities in a supportive and safe
environment with peers who understand each others limitations.
Guests heard from 21-year-old Pheobe Patterson, a former Teen Camp attendant who is now a Heart Kids Teen Champion. Pheobe said that, due to CHD, she faced a number of challenges growing up, but that Teen Camp provided a safe, friendly environment for her, and other kids with CHD, to be themselves.
“We spent our time comparing scars, debating who’d had most surgeries, and showing off our limited availabilities,” she joked. “Camp helped me form life-long friendships, and enabled us to help each other through tough times. “Looking back, I have changed from shy kid who didn’t want to do much, to a confident, young woman. I now wear my scar with greater pride.”
One of Matthews Steer’s nominated charities for a number of years, Heart Kids supports children with congenital heart disease - the greatest killer of kids aged one and under - with research, advocacy, support for their families and awareness.
One baby is diagnosed with heart disease every three hours in Australia, and four young lives are lost each week. Heart Kids relies on donations from supporters to help them make a difference in the lives of children affected by childhood heart disease, and their families.
Teen Camp is made possible through the generosity of supporters, and the camp nurses, doctors, volunteers and other staff who donate their time and expertise. Teen Camp relies on funds raised from the community and the corporate sector.
If you would like to become involved in fundraising, or if you know of a company that would like to support this event, please email Heart Kids, or call (02) 9460 7450 for further information.
If you would like to join Matthews Steer in supporting Heart Kids please make a donation here.