HOBART families will walk together in unity along the Montrose Foreshore on Sunday 27 October to support the 48,000 premature or sick babies born every year in Australia.
The Walk for Prems is the largest annual fundraiser for the Life’s Little Treasures Foundation, which is Australia’s foremost charity dedicated to supporting the families of babies born sick or prior to 37 weeks gestation.
This will be the 10th year the event has run, with walks happening simultaneously in Hobart, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Canberra, Perth, Cairns, Townsville, Ballarat, Goulburn Valley and Gippsland.
Talia Nichols is a Howrah resident who has been participating in the walks for three years as an ongoing nod to her daughter Lilija’s premature birth five years ago.
“It was a pretty terrifying and unexpected experience because we thought we had a normal pregnancy and then I went into premature labour overnight at 24 weeks,” Mrs Nichols said.
“Lilija was born six hours later and went straight into the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
“She had to be resuscitated and intubated, so she was on a ventilator for several weeks.
“She also suffered a quite severe brain haemorrhage within 24 hours of birth, so she was pretty touch-and-go for a while – we didn’t know if we were going to bring her home.”
Mrs Nichols said it was a long road to adjust.
“I had to leave work about two and half months earlier than expected, my husband did his best to be by my side at the hospital for as long as possible, but he had to go back to work a few weeks later,” she said.
“Lilija had a lot of medical appointments – it’s a bit like learning a new language, a new way of life when you’ve got a baby with extra needs and follow up care.”
Mrs Nichols said the Life’s Little Treasures Foundation provided support for not ony them, but for many families who had a premature baby.
“It’s an extremely scary experience for parents to enter the world of premature babies, especially when you’re taken out of your normal life into a world of hospitals in an instant,” she said.
“There’s tens of thousands of premature babies born in Australia each year and foundations like Life’s Little Treasures can help support people who have to uproot themselves out of life for however long it is they need to support a sick or premature child.
“They have things like an information hotline you can call at any time, as well as little gift packs and things that help make the journey a little easier for families going through that experience.”
Mrs Nichols encouraged everyone to come along to support the walking event.
“We like to head along to Walk for Prems to support other families who might be going through a similar experience and help raise funds for them, and also as a little celebration of our miracle baby,” she said.
“It’s also a really nice way for families who have been in hospital for a long time to reconnect with other families sharing the same experience and also potentially some of the doctors and nurses who have been by our side and supporting us through that journey.”
Walk for Prems has raised more than 1.8 million and this year, Life’s Little Treasures Foundation hopes to raise $350,000.
At the beginning of the walk, participants will pause to show their respect for the families whose babies have sadly passed away.
Life’s Little Treasurers Foundation honours their babies’ memory with the ceremonial release of white doves by a family that has lost a child.
Walk for Prems 2019 will take place at Montrose Foreshore from 9.30am on Sunday 27 October.
To register for Walk for Prems 2019, visit www.walkforprems.org.au.
Caption: From left, five-year-old Lilija Nichols, mum Talia Nichols and 14-month-old Feliks Nichols.