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Central West Queensland since 1923
Central West Queensland

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27 August, 2021

Rising above it all

Longreach kids raise their spirits and awareness on behalf of Kids Hope charity.

By Susan C McDarra

Courageous kids Khalissi and Rylan Eustace take to the air for a fast blast of fun with Kids + Champions pilot Wayne Butcher PHOTOS: PHOTOS: Cassandra Mathews

LIFTING the spirits of youngsters who’ve had a rough stretch was evident by the smiles on faces upon touch-down of Kids and Champions helicopter rides in Longreach.  

Wayne Butcher, a Gold Coast-based commercial helicopter pilot, is on a mission to make children feel loved and valued. 

Wayne is a supporter of Kids Hope, an organisation that delivers one-to-one mentoring at Australian primary schools for children experiencing vulnerability.  

Kids from three local families got to experience how being airborne has the potential to lift you above the entrapment of your day-to-day problems as the expansiveness opens your mind to a different perspective.  

Fifteen-year-old Leecrecia Smith was talking about her dream to become a marine biologist with a sparkle in her eyes that wasn’t there before the ride.  

“That was awesome!” said Leecrecia, who flew with her Mum Peggy Smith. 

“I’ve never been in a helicopter before - I felt famous. 

"I saw my cousins from the air because I told them to stand out in the yard and wave to us." 

Siblings Rylan and Khalissi Eustace excitement was contagious as the very act of putting on the aviation headsets transformed them into courageous kids ready for some fast fun as the clutch came off.  

Their single Mum, Codi Eustace “left everything to start a new life out here”, but “just doesn’t have the support”. 

For Declan Gorry, it was a memorable day coinciding with his 13th birthday as he and his brother Joel, 11, took to the skies.  

Described as “good kids”, Declan said the highlight was co-piloting where he took control of the switch buttons and revved the petrol through before take-off.  

After a vulnerable and warm-hearted conversation with pilot Wayne Butcher, the boys’ Mum, Tanya Gorry, said she hadn’t seen the boys smiling like this in a long time. 

“Seeing my kids smile, just gives me a sense of relief that I've been craving for years,” she told Wayne. 

Wayne and filmographer Cassandra Mathews are not just providing an experience for the kids, they’re healing hearts and minds by the simple act of listening and sharing the stories of people in far-flung places.  

The tour, which included a stop-over in Winton and Mt Isa, raises funds and awareness of Kids Hope, Australia's largest early intervention mentoring program aimed at supporting vulnerable children in schools.  

Kids Hope needs more mentors from Longreach and surrounding towns because they want to reach more schools in isolated areas. 

The 16-year-old charity, which Wayne’s Mum Ruth Butcher has been a part of for 15 years, supports vulnerable children in schools by providing them a one-on-one mentor.  

Each mentor visits just one child in a school for one hour every week. 

“It costs us just $300 per year to train and support a volunteer mentor,” Wayne said.  

"So whether people want to train as a mentor or would like to donate, we’re grateful as it’s helping show a child they matter and that someone cares about them. 

“Kids are having a tough time and things are getting worse right now but even though we’ve got 1800 mentors, we’re not even touching the sides. 

“We need more mentors, and we want to reach more schools in isolated areas so we can be a presence in more kids’ lives because I know what we do makes all the difference.” 

For more information about the cause visit www.kidsandchampions.org. 

Each mentor visits just one child in a school for one hour every week. 

“It costs us just $300 per year to train and support a volunteer mentor,” Wayne said. 

"So whether people want to train as a mentor or would like to donate, we’re grateful as it’s helping show a child they matter and that someone cares about them.

“Kids are having a tough time and things are getting worse right now but even though we’ve got 1800 mentors, we’re not even touching the sides.

“We need more mentors, and we want to reach more schools in isolated areas so we can be a presence in more kids’ lives because I know what we do makes all the difference.” 

For more information about the cause visit www.kidsandchampions.org. 
 


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