A Lighting Ridge family are so grateful to a group of dedicated cyclists for raising money in the Royal Far West Ride for Country Kids fundraiser that they want to get the message out there of the wonderful work the organisation does.
To improve the inequalities of services available in rural areas, every dollar from Ride for Country Kids $500,000 rider fundraising target will go towards specialist health services that are not currently accessible to rural children and their families, including Royal Far West’s Paediatric Developmental Program and Telecare for Kids service.
Over $600,000 was raised for Royal Far West from this year’s Ride for Country Kids.
The Butler’s are on a farming property just north of Lightning Ridge in north-west New South Wales.
The family includes mother, Belinda, father, Rhett and children Michael, 13 and Victoria, 11.
They have been connected with Royal Far West for the last 10 years.
Both children have complex needs, including anxiety and ADHD.
They have accessed the organisation’s Paediatric Developmental Program at Manly and Telecare program in their local area. Belinda said it has been a long journey.
“We don’t know where we would’ve been today as a family if we hadn’t of had the help we got from Royal Far West,” she said.
“We’ve been very grateful to them for what they’ve done for the kids.”
It was lovely to know they were very supportive and that they’re doing it for these kids.Belinda Butler.
Michael was just four-years-old, when he first started in the Royal Far West program. And while he no longer attends the programs, Belinda said he is thriving.
“Through the programs that they’ve helped him with over the years, Michael ended up in Year 6 as the Primary School captain at Lightning Ridge Central School,” Belinda said.
“Now he’s at boarding school in Toowoomba. He misses home at times but he’s really enjoying it which is great for him as he’s come such a long way.
“He’s been taught how to cope in situations.”
Victoria, who still goes down every six months, has also benefited greatly since from Royal Far West.
“Victoria has been doing well and last year won a public speaking competition, which is great,” Belinda said.
“Royal Far West are giving her the tools to help her get through speeches and things like that, how to break down words. We’ve still got way to go but we’re getting there.”
Belinda said early intervention was key.
“Early intervention is the best for these kids.. the earlier they can get help the better they can cope with situations down the track…,” she said.
During the Ride for Country Kids fundraiser earlier this month, the cyclists travelled from Lighting Ridge to Walgett, then onto Brewarrina, before finishing in Bourke.
Belinda was able to share her story to the cyclists when they were in Lightning Ridge.
“The riders were all so lovely and came up to me afterwards,” she said.
“It was lovely to know they were very supportive and that they’re doing it for these kids.”
Belinda said there was a major gap between city and rural healthcare for children, but events like the charity ride were helping to bridge that gap.
“These kids in rural and remote communities there’s a big gap between city and country and we need to close that gap as much as we can because we don’t have the facilities out here in these places and we have to go a long way to get help,” she said.
Belinda said while it can be challenging at times.
“You go down there and it can get very overwhelming for families especially at the start but the support that the staff give you, they’re like a family to you in the end,” she said.
“They help as much as they can for you, which is great.”