Giving underprivileged children the kickstart they need.
Hi Nikki and Steve. You tragically lost your son, Sam, to Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) on the 15th January 2017. Can you tell us a bit about Sam?
Sam was an amazing, outgoing young boy who loved life and lived it to the fullest. He never sat still and had amazing dreams and aspirations for his future.
He struggled with what career he would choose. He wanted to be a builder like his dad, or a fireman, while still wanting a job where he would wear a suit.
He loved skiing and being on the lake. He loved soccer and loved his family and friends. Sam always had time for people less fortunate than himself.
Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) is a genetic disorder; what exactly is it?
Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) is an inherited genetic heart condition. It leads to abnormal thickening of the heart muscle. The thickened muscle creates problems, which causes the heart to work less efficiently. Many people carry the HCM Gene without symptoms.
What caused Sam’s sudden death was (HOCM) Hypertrophic Obstructive Cardiomyopathy.
This disorder often goes undiagnosed; had Sam showed any symptoms? What should we look out for?
Unfortunately, Sam didn’t show any symptoms. If he had, the outcome would have been completely different. Symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath, especially during exercise
- Chest pain, especially during exercise
- Fainting during or after exercise
- Sensation of rapid, fluttering or pounding heart beats (palpitations)
- Heart murmur, which a doctor may detect while listening to your heart
You founded a charity in Sam’s name, the “Samuel Brett Nelson Kickstart”. What does the charity strive to achieve?
The charity strives to keep Sam’s memory and character alive. We aim to kickstart children’s lives into things they may never have been exposed to.
We do this by teaching children self reliance and enable them to resist and overcome peer pressure and bullying. We also assist and encourage socially isolated children to become confident and try new things, master new skills and make new friendships. We encourage children to adopt a healthier lifestyle, to slow down obesity and combat reliance on mobile phones and computer games.
In addition, we want to raise awareness of (HCM), so people can become aware of the signs and family medical history.
You offer many different programs to under privileged children in the local area. What’s on offer?
We have various programs and some new and exciting ones. These include:
- Intensive eight week soccer programs at local schools with Jeff Summers
- Individual guitar lessons with Heidi Parsons and Ron Griffey
- Confident Kids Program with Col Osborn
- Intensive swimming program at the YMCA
- School packs
- Individual soccer academy scholarships
Self belief and confidence is extremely important in the development of young children. Tell us a bit about the “Confidence for Kids” program?
This program is generously supported and funded by Club Forster. It is based around children’s confidence and gaining the belief in themselves that anything is possible.
Confidence in yourself is one of the great peer pressure and bullying defeaters. Our aim in the Confident Kids Program is to build self-esteem.
Confident kids are far less likely to be bullied and far more likely to participate in social activities that help them build relationships and social skills.
Tell us about some of the success stories you’ve had?
There have been many success stories as a result of every program. We have had a little girl who was so excited to compete in the next swimming carnival, after completing a two term swimming program.
We have had children who love the game of soccer, but who have never been able to afford the Individual Soccer Academy, grow in their skills and confidence. Kickstart offers a scholarship to this program.
Teachers have noted that certain children’s behaviour and attendance has improved on the days the programs are available. Parents have also commented that their children’s behaviour has improved at home.
The guitar program has seen disadvantaged kids loving the guitar so much, that they go down to the local shopping centre and busk. All this has been an amazing success.
Your charity is run on the support of volunteers; how can we get involved?
There are always things that people can do to help. With our upcoming trivia night there are prizes and donations which volunteers could help us acquire from local businesses and sponsors.
We are always open to meeting people who may have something to offer; our charity is extremely successful and loved, because it’s making a difference and improving our community. The world needs more of this.
What fundraising events do you have coming up, and how can the community support you?
We have our second trivia night on the 15th June at Tuncurry Beach Bowling Club. The first event was a huge success, raising $25,000. The Trivia Night will have celebrity guests and speakers. Tickets will go on sale in April and can be purchased from the club: ph 6554 6477.
The second event is the “Battle of the Bridge” soccer grudge match between the Tuncurry Tigers and Wallis Lake Premier League teams. This is proudly supported by Football Mid North Coast.
We’d like to thank our amazing community for their support. It has enabled us to continue supporting and impacting children in our local primary schools.
Where can we find more information on all the wonderful work the charity does?
The best place is to visit our website: www.kickstartforsam.com.au