In just under five years, Belconnen couple Michael and Rebecca Braddon and their team at Peter Blackshaw Real Estate Gungahlin have raised over $100,000 for vital local children’s charity, the Stella Bella Little Stars Foundation.
From humble beginnings, the Braddons have built the culture of their family-run Peter Blackshaw franchise into an office that gives back – and reaching a milestone of $100,000 raised for the Stella Bella Little Stars Foundation at their charity golf day last week was the pinnacle.
Out of her own heartbreak, founder of the Stella Bella Little Stars Foundation Suzanne Tunks turned the loss of her baby girl Stella at 9 months of age into a lifelong legacy honouring her daughter’s memory by creating the namesake foundation.
Suzanne said, “Our beautiful little girl Stella spent half of her short life in hospital and half of it cared for at home in palliative care. It was a mammoth task, requiring 24-hour care, tube feeding, medication, supported breathing and suction machines, extra oxygen and lots of medical appointments. We wouldn’t have swapped this time with Stella for anything, but we certainly learnt to appreciate how hard it is for many families in similar situations.
“Most families lose at least one wage when they have a child with a long-term serious illness, and some lose both wages. Living expenses rise with more travel costs, medication and meals in hospital, so a little support goes a long way to help families through these very difficult times. Through our foundation, families with chronically ill children can come to us for financial assistance, family support, to participate in our Little Beads program or for respite through the Stella Bella Children’s Centre in Fyshwick.
“We’re so thankful to Michael and Rebecca. Each year, the money they raise generates about 20% of the annual funding we need to operate. So, their contribution is huge for us – and to have hit $100,000 over 5 years from one small office is mind-blowing.”
Michael said, “The incredible work that Suzanne does for the local community and seriously ill Canberran children and their families is the sort of stuff that would give anyone goosebumps. The fact that we can give back in our own small way is humbling.”
And the kindness is spreading. “Each year, more and more people in the Canberra business community get behind our event. This year we’ve even had businesses on the South Coast, and as far away as Queensland get involved. We couldn’t do it without them,” said Michael.
Rebecca said, “The perspective Suzanne gives us when she shares her story and when we hear about what other families are going through is moving and very grounding. It puts life into perspective and makes you realise that maybe you’re not having such a bad day after all. For our staff, this is their favourite day of the year. Giving back has become contagious and we’re happy to catch that bug for life.”
In addition to the Stella Bella Little Stars Foundation, the Braddons and their Peter Blackshaw Gungahlin office also support other grass-roots organsiations in the ACT, including junior sport through the West Belconnen Warriors Juniors, North Canberra Bears Juniors, Hurricanes Softball Club, along with various local school fetes, including Hawker Primary School.
Michael and Rebecca Braddon with Suzanne Tunks