Sylvia Jeffreys: Join me in supporting Youngcare at City2Surf, 2019

Join the AIA Vitality team alongside Sylvia Jeffreys, Laura Henshaw, Marika Day and Shane Crawford at this year’s City2Surf fun run.

OneLife  staff writer

OneLife staff writer

Staff writer

AIA Vitality is on a simple, yet powerful mission: To help all Australians live healthier, longer, better lives.

This mission will be front and centre when the AIA Vitality team joins forces with Youngcare at this year's City2Surf fun run in Sydney, with the aim of raising $50,000 for the charity.

Together with JAGGAD and The Man and Lady Shake, AIA Vitality is calling on Australians of all walks of life to make one change to improve their health while helping a great cause. We will be walking, running, and jogging the 14-kilometre course from the Sydney CBD to Bondi Beach to support young Australians with high care needs; young Australians like Alexis.

Meet Alexis

Three-year-old Alexis has been fighting since the day she was born.

After countless tests and months of confusion, Alexis was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy, which her mother Kristi describes as a “child's version of motor neuron disease."

Due to Alexis' muscle weakness, she's unable to bear weight on her legs or lift her head. Her respiratory system is severely impacted; the weakness of her throat muscles inhibits her breathing and swallowing, and she is not strong enough to cough or clear her lungs.

"It makes her cry with sickness because she's not strong enough. It just sits there and develops into pneumonia, chest infections – she's had it all. Every time she has a cold, she is in hospital – she can't shake it. A normal healthy child when they get sick, they take about a week to get better, she takes about a month," said Kristi.

The only way for Alexis' sickness to be cleared from her system was through the use of a cough assist machine. This machine imitates the act of a cough – a quick breath of air effectively removing secretions from the lungs. The use of this machine prevents sickness such as a common cold from developing into something much more serious.

But securing funding for the machine ended up being a fight that Kristi wasn't prepared for.

The family was handballed between the NDIS and the state health department. No one was able – or willing – to help. Alexis was going to slip through the cracks.

The turning point

Just as they were losing hope, one phone call restored their faith.

When Kristi phoned the Youngcare Connect Team she wasn't feeling optimistic. At that stage, earlier this year, the national charity was focused on providing support to Australians between the age of 18 and 60. It was a long shot.

But when Anthony Ryan, CEO of Youngcare, heard their story – he was willing to move the goalposts.

He found the funding for Alexis' cough assist machine and has now committed to opening up their grants to young Australians with high care needs in the 0–17 year old age group.

"Our decision to fund the cost of a cough assist machine for Alexis and her family was a significant move for our organisation, as we strive to rally Australians to help us expand our reach and make a greater impact on more young people with high care needs and their families and carers," said Anthony.

It was a turning point for Kristi as a carer. "These grants are absolutely crucial. Equipment such as a cough assist machine helps so much to give her a better quality of life. With the machine, Alexis spends less time in hospital, so we are able to give the assistance at home. Bring other equipment into the mix and it helps with independence and mobility."

Join the cause

AIA Vitality encourages its community to think big and start small. By joining our City2Surf team on Sunday, August 11 you’ll be taking a step towards a happier, healthier version of yourself. And best of all, you’ll be doing it for the 12,000 young adults who aren’t lucky enough to have that choice.

If that’s not enough to get you on board, there are also some brilliant prizes up for grabs. The first 300 people to join our team and raise $150 will receive a pair of tickets to our VIP post-race marquee on Bondi Beach, where you’ll be able to join myself, Laura Henshaw, Marika Day, and Shane Crawford for free massages, coffee, and food. You’ll also get a pair of JAGGAD leggings or shorts, as well as co-branded team t-shirt – together valued at $259.

The top three fundraisers will score a $1,000 JAGGAD voucher, an endota spa voucher worth $200, and a Garmin device. Don’t wait, sign up now.

If you can't be there, you can always help Australians like Alexis live the lives they deserve by donating directly.

I hope to see you on Heartbreak Hill!

OneLife  staff writer

OneLife staff writers come from a range of backgrounds including health, wellbeing, music, tech, culture and the arts. They spend their time researching the latest data and trends in the health market to deliver up-to-date information, helping everyday Australians live healthier lives. This is general information only and is not intended as medical, health, nutritional or other advice. You should obtain professional advice from a medical or health practitioner in relation to your own personal circumstances. The information in this article is general information only and is not intended as medical, health, nutritional or other advice. You should obtain professional advice from a medical or health practitioner in relation to your own personal circumstances.

The information in this article is general information only and is not intended as financial, medical, health, nutritional, tax or other advice. It does not take into account any individual’s personal situation or needs. You should consider obtaining professional advice from a financial adviser and/or tax specialist, or medical or health practitioner, in relation to your own circumstances and before acting on this information.