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A Queensland couple who lost their baby girl just six days after she was born are honouring her memory by raising funds for Catherine’s House for Mothers, Babies and Families, Queensland’s first integrated perinatal mental health service at Mater.
Maria and Brett, from Norman Park are holding Olivia’s Race Day on 25 March at Eagle Farm Racecourse, a fund-raising initiative held in memory of Olivia who was born 14 weeks early at Mater Mothers’ Hospital on 26 February 2001, weighing just 499 grams – less than a tub of butter.
Funds raised at the event will be donated to the soon-to-be opened Catherine’s House, a world-class centre located in the original Mater convent which will support mothers and families who are experiencing perinatal mental health issues.
The couple, who have two daughters Chelsea, 25 and Maddy, 21, have held fund-raising events in honour of their daughter since 2003, which have become an annual tradition for many groups of friends.
Maria said she wanted to give back to the hospital who cared for Olivia while she was in the Neonatal Critical Care Unit (NCCU).
“With the funds that we raise from this event and through our fundraising efforts from 2021 ($163,000) and 2022 ($257,000), we will be able to completely renovate and fit-out the shared kitchen, dining room and lounge area for inpatients and their families on level three of Catherine’s House,” Maria said.
“These rooms to me represent the heart of our family home where we gather and relax together.
“We started fundraising for Catherine’s House because we saw that it was a much-needed service. Many days for us were spent sitting outside the convent on an old bench, when we had one of our girls in hospital for three months.
“We saw Catherine's House as a healing space for families and we wanted to help and to be a part of that.
Maria said Mater was “very close to her heart”.
“Mater has given us our three girls and although we had the worst possible outcome with Olivia, we have had the best possible outcomes with Chelsea and Maddy,” she said.
“Being able to raise money for Mater has helped my family heal after losing Olivia and has helped my daughters understand their fragile beginnings and create a legacy in memory of the sister they never knew.
Mater Foundation Chief Executive Andrew Thomas said more than $17 million in generous community donations to Mater Foundation has enabled the former Sisters of Mercy convent at South Brisbane to be redeveloped into Catherine’s House.
“The funds raised from Olivia’s Race Day will go a long way to contributing to the happiness of other families during their stay at Catherine’s House,” Mr Thomas said.
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