Bendigo strides for cystic fibrosis cure

BIG STEPS: Sisters Kiara and Tahnee Richardson have cystic fibrosis and will be taking part in a fundraising walk for the condition on Sunday. Picture: DARREN HOWE
BIG STEPS: Sisters Kiara and Tahnee Richardson have cystic fibrosis and will be taking part in a fundraising walk for the condition on Sunday. Picture: DARREN HOWE

For Bendigo families raising children with cystic fibrosis, life is a daily struggle. 

But the Richardson family have double the dilemma with two of their three daughters – eight-year-old Kiara and five-year-old Tahnee – born with the genetic condition. 

Cystic fibrosis affects the girls’ breathing and digestion; it causes very thick mucus to build up in organs, like the lungs.

Repeated blockages and infection can result in irreversible lung damage and death, with only 50 per cent of people diagnosed living into their late-30s.

But the girls manage their condition well, with medication and physiotherapy. 

“We have to have medicine and it means we have to go to lots of physio – running and jumping on trampolines,” Kiara said. 

“It makes us healthy.”

RAISING AWARENESS: Kiara and Tahnee Richardson hug mum Sally and baby sister Peyton. Picture: DARREN HOWE

RAISING AWARENESS: Kiara and Tahnee Richardson hug mum Sally and baby sister Peyton. Picture: DARREN HOWE

Mother Sally Richardson explained the regular exercise helped break down the mucus to prevent illness. 

She and husband Scott had no idea they were both carriers of the cystic fibrosis gene, until it was discovered in Kiara as a newborn. 

At eight weeks old, her body wasn’t absorbing fats and she wasn’t gaining any weight. 

Tahnee suffered the same symptoms and both girls have had to travel frequently to the Royal Children’s Hospital for check ups, or to be admitted for treatment. 

Their condition means the family of five live a very busy life, with medical necessities piled onto the regular extra-curricular activities for kids. 

“It’s just what we have got to do to keep them as healthy as we can,” Ms Richardson said. 

The fundraising walking event will also boast a Family Festival with a reptile and snake display, DJ Dave, a jumping castle, face painting and a sausage sizzle. All are welcome to attend the festival and donate a gold coin to the cause. 

The Great Strides for Cystic Fibrosis Bendigo event will take place at Lake Weeroona on Sunday, October 25, from 8.30am to 11.30pm. Proceeds will go to Cystic Fibrosis Victoria, which receives 70 per cent of its money through fundraising. 

For more information, go to www.everydayhero.com.au/event/GS2015Bendigo.

For the Richardson’s fundraising page, go to http://gs2015bendigo.everydayhero.com/au/sally