Sunday, September 03, 2006

Australian Father of the Year

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A little off topic but today is Father's Day in Australia.

For most, it's a day to celebrate the first special man in our life. For others, it might invoke signficantly less positive emotions and might be a day they would prefer to avoid thinking about.

My own emotions today are mixed. My father passed away 17 years ago, my step-father 7 years ago. Both were wonderful men, quite different, and their loss has left a significant gap in my life. So, from that point of view, today is tinged with a little sadness.

The flipside of the coin is the sheer excitement of my small daughter, who awoke this morning at 6am busting to wake up her father with a bag busting full of goodies. I've managed to hold her off so far. Even Dads need a lie-in sometimes....

What I really wanted to share today is the story of the Australian Father of the Year, Mr. Ron Delezio. Australians are, of course, very familiar with the Delezio family.

Mr. Delezio is the father of 7 year old Mitchell and 5 year old Sophie. Sophie is a truly remarkable little girl. In her short life, she has fell victim to not one but two tragic, life-threatening accidents.

The first incident occurred when Sophie was aged two. She was taking an afternoon nap on the floor when a car left the road, smashed through the wall of her pre-school building, caught alight and trapped Sophie and her friend Molly Wood underneath. Sophie suffered burns to 85% of her body, in places down to the bone. She lost an ear, some fingers and both feet and for weeks it was uncertain whether she would even survive.

A long, hard road to recovery followed.

Then, unbelievably, tragedy stuck again in May this year when Sophie was hit by a car. This time Sophie was left unconscious and on life support. Amazingly, she fought back, leaving hospital five weeks later.

For any parent, this story represents a worst nightmare.

Sophie has come through it all, smiling and loving life. An incredible girl. An incredible family.

Mr. Delezio is honoured as the recipient of the 2006 Australian Father of the Year today partly in recognition of his community action during this time. Following Sophie's first accident, Mr Delezio and his wife, Carolyn Martin, established The Day of Difference, a charitable foundation to conduct research into diseases associated with burns.

Mr. Delezio is surprised by his award, saying "so many other fathers have had to support their children through very difficult times, sometimes leading to the worst situation, where they have lost a child." Sadly true but, nonetheless, as a father, he is an inspiration.

"We have such a short time on this earth to enjoy
with our loved ones. Life is so fragile and can be
taken away orchanged in the blink of an eye."

Important words which resonate so loudly with the anniversaries of Katrina, September 11th and the Bali bombings imminent.

So, while it might specifically be Father's Day today, take the time to appreciate those in your life who are important to you, whether they be family, friends or even your blogger pals.


Brave Sophie leaves hospital
Sophie's Dad an easy choice for Australian Father of the Year
Super Sophie


fjl said...

What a lovely girl. Thankyou for sharing this with us. x

jumpinginpuddles said...

And for someone that was recently at the royal children hospital with my daughter, i met many fathers like sophies and this years award is one of the better choices. The reason sophies father is reperesnting all those fathers who i met tirelessly sitting beside the bedside of their seriously ill children. Fathers day is about them for their bravery and courage.


Alison said...

When I see Sophie's picture, I'm awestruck by her. But behind her always there's her mum and dad. Kids are so precious, but when they go through what Sophie's gone through, and of course there are countless numbers doing it as I write, what makes or breaks them is the love and committment of their parents.

There should be a "Parents of the Year" award, so Sophie's mum can be acknowledged too. Ron Delezio deserves this and young Sophie would the first to agree.

Of course, no-one here in oz could believe at first that this little girl could be hurt again so badly after the terrible accident before it. Least of all the old guy who ran her over on the ped crossing. He was too grief stricken to say anything in court. I do feel for him. Let's face it, it could have been any of us.

So many people in this country have been affected by this.

I say, all godspeed and grace to this family. They've had a rotten and hard time of it. A Father of the Year Award is the least a community can offer a family in their situation.

Anonymous said...

Incredible story. I can't imagine what this little girl's parents went through and the resilience of children never ceases to amaze me!

healthpsych said...

Hey FJL, Yes, she's a remarkable girl!

Hi Amelia,
Yes, I'm sure you see this a lot. I agree, though, excellent choice this year.

Hey Alison,
Actually, I thought about Sophie's mother when I wrote this post up. It is, as you say, a team effort, complemented by Sophie herself and her incredible medical teams.

Hi Tiesha,
It is an incredible story and Father's Day seemed like a good time to share it.

cathy said...

This is a wonderful story. Look at that big smile on her little face. beautiful!

fjl said...

So sad abut Steve Irwin and I've done a post for him on the blog x

psychgrad said...

That's an amazing story.

Also - Just heard about Steve Irwin this morning - very sad.

The Little Student said...

What a great story, and the picture is priceless. Another great post Health Psych.

healthpsych said...

Hi Cathy,
Thanks for dropping by. That photo just illustrates the spirit of Sophie. I love it.

I dropped by to visit. Great post.

Hi Psychgrad,
It is sad and under less dangerous circumstances than he normally exposed himself to. So young and with little children too.

Hi Caleb,
I thought it was a good positive story to share. Glad you enjoyed it.

Miette said...

What an amazing story.

I'm touched by Sophie's positive attitude in light of what she has been through.

healthpsych said...

Hello Miette,
Thanks for visiting. Tragedy aside, it is an amazing example of the resillience of children.