When Belinda and Craig Mullans’ first child was born, they had a picture in their mind about what life would be like with their baby boy. However, it didn’t turn out as planned.
“My first Mother’s Day was not at all like I expected it would be. Jack was only three weeks old and he was still in intensive care. We were unsure about whether he was going to make it,” Belinda said.
“He had a brain haemorrhage while in-utero and his brain fluid was not circulating the way it should have been, which meant his head circumference was getting bigger and bigger. He needed surgery to have a shunt placed in his brain to improve the flow of fluid.”
Now 11 years old, Jack has cerebral palsy, epilepsy and requires a wheelchair for mobility. He also has a visual impairment that causes him difficulties in being able to see people and associate places.
While the family are thankful that Jack is now doing well, he still has a life-threatening condition and his medical complications put significant pressure on the family.
The respite care provided by Very Special Kids Hospice has allowed Jack to enjoy several stays while Belinda, Craig and their second child Lucy take a much-needed break.
Belinda said she feels confident that Jack is in the very best of care.
“The second time Jack stayed, we took the big step of going interstate for the weekend to Tasmania to watch the football with another couple. We slept in and had some respite, it was just fantastic. We hadn’t done that for eight years,” she said.
“Because Jack requires 24 hour care, it means doing everyday family activities like bike riding is always a challenge” said Belinda, “We often have to do things separately or not at all, but we acknowledge our family is different and we make the best out of what we can.”
The Mullan family are just one of the 900 Victorian families that Very Special Kids supports. By providing free of charge care for these children and families, Very Special Kids relies heavily on the support and generosity of the community.
How you can help support
Very Special Kids are the official charity partner for The Amazing Ride, a family cycling adventure taking place on Sunday 12 February. All funds raised will go towards helping support families like the Mullan’s.
“I love that Cycling Victoria are supporting Very Special Kids” says Belinda. “It’s a great opportunity to value special needs kids within the community, and their families, whilst also raising funds for an important cause.”
The Amazing Ride lets you explore the bike paths of Melbourne in a fun, safe and family friendly way. With three rides to suit all ages and abilities, the Amazing Ride will be a fun day out for the whole family. Stopping at iconic Melbourne sites like the Collingwood Children’s Farm and passing hidden gems and beautiful playgrounds, the 1km Baby Chino Ride, the 14km Milkshake Ride or 32km Latte Lap each have something to make the whole family smile.