Small change gives kids hospital wards big hope

Kiwis encouraged to dig deep as Countdown Kids Hospital Appeal aims to raise $10 million in 10 years

1 August 2016: Liam Parsons dreams of one day becoming a policeman – just like his dad. But four-year-old Liam, who lives with acute asthma, is one of the thousands of Kiwi kids who suffer from an illness or injury that makes achieving their dreams more challenging than it is for most.

Liam is the face of this year’s Countdown Kids Hospital Appeal, which kicks off today and raises money for much-needed medical equipment in 11 children’s wards in hospitals across the country. As the Appeal enters its tenth year, more than $9.3 million has been raised to purchase crucial life-saving medical equipment, like the pulse oximeter that has measured the proportion of oxygen in Liam’s blood during his three terrifying trips to the emergency room.

Previous Appeals have seen medical equipment such as MRI and CT scanners, incubators and cardiac monitors donated, as well as play equipment to keep kids’ spirits up when they’re fighting illness and injury. This year’s Appeal hopes to raise $1.1 million, taking the ten year total to more than $10 million.

Countdown Kids Hospital Appeal Chairperson, Ruth Krippner, says most Kiwi kids will visit hospital at some stage in their childhood, and Countdown is proud to play a part in helping provide these hospitals with the equipment needed to treat illness and injury.

“Whether it’s a one off visit for a minor injury or a lengthy stay for a serious illness, most New Zealand children will have a brush with a children’s hospital ward at some point. Thanks to the generosity of our customers and the fundraising efforts of the Countdown teams, we’re able to help provide hospitals with the much needed-equipment to treat thousands of Kiwi kids. Last year we raised a massive $1.1 million, and we’re hoping to do the same this year.”

The face of this year’s Appeal, Liam Parsons is the youngest of four siblings and hails from Tuatapere – a small rural town in Southland. Late last year he was admitted to Southland Hospital for respiratory distress, where he was administered high-flow oxygen and hooked up to heart and oxygen monitors. After two more frightening visits to the children’s ward, Liam was diagnosed with acute asthma. Each time Liam is admitted, the whole ordeal is traumatic and takes a toll on both Liam and his family. For children, asthma is one of the most common causes of hospital admissions, and an estimated 1 in 7 children take medication for asthma in New Zealand.

As part of this year’s Appeal, Countdown brought Liam’s dream to life for the day, flying him to Wellington to train with the recruits at the Royal New Zealand Police College. Liam spent the day donning past and present police uniforms, racing around the skid pan track in a police car and testing the obedience of the police dogs on-site, all of which gave him an insight into the life of a police recruit.

Ten years on, the Appeal has helped countless Kiwi kids all around the country. When it was in its early days, medical equipment purchased with funds from the Appeal saved the life of Auckland baby Sophie Bold. Sophie was born at Kidz First Neonatal Unit 14 weeks premature weighing less than a small block of butter, and was placed in a CosyCot – a warming bassinette designed to control a baby’s body temperature. This life-saving $15,000 cot was funded by a donation made to Kidz First from the Countdown Kids Hospital Appeal.

Sophie’s premature birth was brought on by an infection, resulting in Cerebral Palsy. Sophie went on to become the face of the 2012 Kids Hospital Appeal and inspired thousands of Kiwis to donate to the cause. Today, Sophie is a happy and determined six-year-old who enjoys playing football through Halberg Disability Sport Foundation and riding horses with New Zealand Riding for the Disabled.

Kiwis can support kids battling illness and injury, like Liam and Sophie, by making a donation to the Appeal or engaging in local activities and raffles. To donate, simply:

  • Visit your local Countdown supermarket and donate at the checkout
  • Purchase a Countdown Kids Hospital Appeal wristband or raffle ticket in-store
  • Donate while you're doing your online shopping.

Countdown stores are also working alongside their local children’s wards to host fundraising activities such as golf tournaments, trivia nights and bake sales.

For more information on the Countdown Kids Hospital Appeal and Liam Parsons, visit www.countdown.co.nz/community-environment/countdown-kids-hospital-appeal or enquire at your local Countdown store.

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