There were tears across Brisbane this morning as the life of an Arana Hills family was transformed thanks to Triple M Brisbane, TAFE Queensland, Paynters and over 60 small businesses, individual tradies and people who simply wanted – and needed – to help.
At just seven years old, Brisbane’s Ollie (Olive) Schmidt has been through more than most people do in a lifetime. She has up to 250 seizures a day, and her family needed help. Today, after months of planning and four intense weeks of building, Ollie’s home was revealed with a new padded deck and safe area.
This morning hardened tradies showed their huge hearts as they formed a guard of honour for Ollie, her parents and two brothers as they returned to the family home – a home transformed by the love of a city.
Triple M Brisbane is known for helping those in need so when Variety Queensland told the team about Ollie, there was no question about being on board to change her life, and that of her family.
“TAFE Queensland and Paynters immediately answered our call and have stood shoulder to shoulder with us in building the padded deck and safe area. They were joined by over 60 other businesses and individuals. The inspiring part? More than 150 businesses wanted to help, proving this city has a huge heart, there’s a lot of joy here this morning,” said Triple M Breakfast’s Greg ‘Marto’ Martin.
It’s a story that tears at the heartstrings.
At just eight months, Ollie went into heart failure and her parents Cory and Mandy were told to prepare for the worst; but Ollie fought. She made it to the Melbourne Royal Children’s Hospital and against all odds, survived on an artificial heart for months, until a suitable donor heart was found. She recovered well; she learnt to walk and soon was a typical active, bright, happy toddler. Until she wasn’t.
Just before her second birthday, Ollie began getting sick and the doctors didn’t know why. After six hospital admissions, she had a two-hour ‘Grand Mal’ (Tonic Clonic) seizure which left her with significant brain damage and severe epilepsy. No cause for her illness was ever identified.
Since that seizure in 2016, her condition has continued to deteriorate into a severe refractory drug resistant epilepsy including multiple seizure types daily. Ollie hasn’t had a seizure-free day since 2017. She stops breathing several times a day because of them. She is now developmentally delayed and intellectually impaired, and as a result, can’t do everyday activities. A large percentage of her seizures are “Atonic” drop seizures where she loses all muscle control and drops to the ground. They cause significant injures which in some cases have required surgery. After each extended hospital admission, she has had to relearn key skills.
Ollie has two older brothers in Austin and Max who adore their little sister.
It was early this year that Triple M heard their story, and stepped in.
“With the support of TAFE Queensland and Paynters, and the people of Brisbane, we have built Ollie’s padded floating deck. This family has been through enough, and little Ollie deserves this space where she can practice her walking, and be safe,” said Marto, whose eyes welled up when he heard the story.
“We were so blown away when Triple M rang to say Variety had asked them to get behind the project. Not only will this help build Ollie’s strength and development but it will also give her the freedom to be a little girl, to play in her own space. This will be a life saver for our family. Words cannot express how thankful we are that everyday people would invest in her future,” said Ollie’s mum Mandy.
TAFE Queensland SkillsTech General Manager, John Tucker said the training provider was excited to jump in and lend a helping hand. “TAFE Queensland is committed to not only providing the training and skills needed to support our state’s employers and industries, but most importantly we are committed to supporting the communities in which we also live and work in throughout Queensland,” Tucker said. “When learning of her story, our trade teachers and apprentices jumped at the chance to help provide a safe space for Ollie to play and explore without the risk of ending up back in hospital.”
Queensland based design and construction firm Paynters also jumped on board as Triple M’s construction partner. Paynters General Manager & Director, Brett Johnston said the opportunity to participate in supporting the family and Ollie was one that they could not go past.
“For us, we saw this as a chance to give something back to our local community. Paynters made it our mission to create this environment that has such a positive impact on Ollie and her family,” he said.