Man faces fears to aid a sick child

Taylar AmoniniNorth West Telegraph

In next month’s Newman Rodeo funds will be raised to help a child with cerebral palsy courtesy of fundraising organisation Facing Fears for Families.

Facing Fears for Families was founded with the goal of working with families in a bid to raise funds for sick children.

Chris Pirie, a Perth engineer, has spent 12 weeks preparing for his fear of uncontrolled risks.

“My challenge relates to uncontrolled risks, and being an engineer, your life is full of control and you’ve got numbers for everything,” he said.

“The thing that frightens me most is no control.

“Sitting on top of a rodeo bull really gives you no control.”

Mr Pirie’s challenge is uniquely suited to the young girl the funds will go to, Chloe Ridley.

Five-year-old Chloe has hypotonic cerebral palsy, a cortical vision impairment whereby she cannot make her body do what she wants it to.

Muscle tone is diminished, and children who suffer struggle to develop fine motor skills and normal cognitive development.

Chloe Ridley, 5, with NAPA Centre therapists Claire MacFarlane and Alison Gebhardt.
Camera IconChloe Ridley, 5, with NAPA Centre therapists Claire MacFarlane and Alison Gebhardt.

With Chloe’s family, Facing Fears for Families hopes to raise money to take her to a specialised intensive therapy program, the Neurological and Physical Abilitation Centre in Sydney, where she will work with therapists to learn a variety of skills including, walking independently, limiting her falls, using her hands properly and helping her engage and play with other children her age — something she is desperate to do.

“We found Chloe and her family from a gofundme page and found the family had been trying to raise funds for quite some time and the story touched us,” Mr Pirie said.

Facing Fears for Families has been working with Chloe since before Christmas and has been able to raise enough money for her to attend the NAPA Centre for two sessions, where she has worked with director of rehabilitation Claire MacFarlane.

“We’ve been working with Chloe for two sessions now, and the changes that she has shown from the start is huge,” Ms MacFarlane said.

“For Chloe we’ve found intensive therapy works well because it is a repetition and it’s a consistency.

“A lot of the time these kids have got so much going on in their lives and school that you do a task once but you might have a thousand other tasks that you do once so it’s hard to get that memory of that one.

“Whereas here we do the same thing at the same time every day so they’re a lot more able to get the strength and pattern of that sequence.

“For Chloe, I’d love to see her come back and see what she could do next in developing her skills more.”

Now at the next stage of his challenge, Mr Pirie has been in contact with the Newman Campdraft and Rodeo Association and fourth-generation bull rider Wade McCarthy in preparation for his death-defying ride.

“I don’t even like horses, so I’ve really been working hard to prepare and I don’t take this lightly,” Mr Pirie said.

Travelling to the North West outback, Mr Pirie will put his 12 weeks of preparation into action and ride a bull at the North West’s biggest rodeo on April 8.

To find out more and to donate, visit facingfearsforfamilies.com.au.

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