Losing a child is something Bundaberg’s Lauren Wheeler hopes no other family will have to go through, but if they do she wants to be there to help.
Late last year, Lauren and her husband Joe lost their son, and little warrior, William after a lengthy battle with cancer.
William’s story touched the heart of the Bundaberg community, which rallied together to help give the two-year-old a few final wishes before he passed away.
That’s why Lauren has now teamed up with close friend Jasmine Jeffrey to start a charity organisation, to help parents and their families through the sickness of a child, Wish Upon A Star.
Through tears, of both joy and sadness, Lauren shares details of the final months of William’s life, a life that has inspired her to help others.
“I remember reading a children’s book with William, just before he passed away, about the moon and the stars,” Lauren said.
“When he suddenly looked up at me and said ‘mum, you’re the moon and I am the star’, it was just the most beautiful thing and from then I thought he would be our little star.
“So, this is why we decided to name the charity Wish Upon A Star, in honour of William’s memory.”
The community came together after hearing the story of the sick little warrior, and to the amazement of William’s family the generosity and passion flowed from strangers into their hearts.
Along with small gestures of turning on Bundaberg’s Christmas Tree lights, support and events started to form around the Wheeler family, including the inaugural bike ride, Ride for William, to help raise funds.
Instigating Ride for William, Jasmine, who met the Wheeler family through teaching William’s older brother Ryan at kindergarten, said there was a certain “pull on the inside” that drove her to do something to help.
“Ride for William ended up bigger than I expected, and it shows what the community can do to help a family in need,” Jasmine said.
“I know after the help given to the Wheeler family, Lauren wanted to do something in William’s honour to help other family’s going through what they did, and under Wish Upon A Star we have organised Dice 4 Dash to support little Dash Leather while he undergoes treatment in Brisbane.”
Along with holding an annual Ride for William event to support others in the community, Jasmine and Lauren are busy creating memory keepsake boxes for families who lose a child, and they have dreams to one day even open a respite holiday home.
“There are so many families going through similar situations to what we went through,” Lauren said.
“I would love to be able to give families the opportunity to reconnect, have that downtime because there is extra pressure when children are sick, and they are facing battles non-stop, and so are the mums and dads and family around them.”
The memory keepsake box kits would allow for parents to take hand and foot prints and plaster casts, along with a lock of hair, to help treasure the memory of a child from birth to 20 years.
The pair plan to make the Wish Upon A Star memory boxes available even in an emergency situation through hospitals.
They are now going through the process of gaining charity status for Wish Upon A Star, so they can continue to help families in need for years to come.
To find out more, or to offer assistance, check out Wish Upon A Star on Facebook.