A five-kilometre sprint race, against the most elite athletes, through 20 gruelling obstacles, all with a 10kg vest on. This extreme physical undertaking is what Team Kilo India Delta Sierra (KIDS) are training for when the Spartan Race takes place in Melbourne. And they aren’t just doing it for the thrill of it – there is a greater cause that drives them on.
The group are raising vital funds to increase the support and care provided to children and young people with autism and intellectual disabilities at The Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH).
Dr Patrick Tully is the founder of Team KIDS, as well as a doctor at the Austin Hospital and medical officer for the Australian Defence Force.
“Working as a doctor can be a real eye opener watching the struggles and triumphs of our patients and their families. We are witnesses to these every day, but I think we also see the flow on effect when something like the current pandemic hits and how that trickles down into a hospitals eco-system,” said Patrick.
“Fundraising to support children with autism and intellectual disability resonates with me given I have family members with intellectual disability and know the impact the pandemic has had on their daily life which depends on routine and consistency.”
Wanting to know more about how his support could help patients and families with autism and intellectual disabilities, Patrick worked with the RCH Foundation to find a project that required funding at the hospital.
“I was concerned to hear from Associate Professor Daryl Efron, Paediatrician at the RCH, that since the COVID-19 pandemic began, there has been an increase of children with autism or intellectual disability presenting to the RCH Emergency Department in crisis,” said Patrick.
Daryl explained to him that children with intellectual disabilities can sometimes fall through the cracks with these presentations because there isn’t a clear medical cause for their presentation, but equally it isn’t necessarily a clear mental health condition. As such the management and admission process is complicated.
Team KIDS have committed to fundraising for the Improved Support for Autism and Intellectual Disability project. The centrepiece of this project will be a specialised Clinical Nurse Consultant in the General Medicine Department.
“Our money is going directly towards funding a Clinical Nurse Consultant who will be responsible for coordinating care and communication between clinical teams during the acute admission for these kids as well as the follow up within the community after they leave the doors of the hospital, to ensure they are better supported. Being the son of a nurse, I recognise the significance of the contribution they play in healthcare, often being the link between families and the hospital ecosystem,” said Patrick.
With a mission of raising $125,000 for the project, Patrick has brought together friends from the defence force, healthcare and the community to pair their interests in extreme racing with giving back.
“Despite busy schedules, not to mention restrictions creating an extra hurdle to training, every one of these people have worked hard to contribute to Team KIDS to ensure its success,” said Patrick.
The team have entered in the elite sprint category of the Spartan Race, which involves a five-kilometre sprint with 20 obstacles along the way. The elite heat means they will be competing against the fittest athletes.
“In addition to this we will be running the race in 10kg weight vests, which was not a race requirement but something we chose to do as a symbol of the hardship faced by the children we are raising money for.”
As well as competing in the Spartan Race, Team KIDS will also be auctioning off sports memorabilia at a fundraising event in Sydney when restrictions ease.
Fundraising is underway, and Team KIDS are seeking further community support to reach its $125,000 goal.
“This project looks to reduce emergency presentations for children with intellectual disabilities by 30 per cent. Your donations will go towards improving the care of these children in the community and addressing issues early,” said Patrick.
To support Team KIDS, donate here: https://www.mycause.com.au/page/252607