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Kids ‘mentors in the air’ land at Kurrimine Beach

30/July/2021
Armani Mercer was excited to go on a helicopter joy flight with her brothers. Photo: Cassandra Mathews - Kids + Champions

COMMERCIAL helicopter pilot, Wayne Butcher, from the Gold Coast, has quit his job as a business coach, hired a helicopter, and is spreading a message of hope to kids in cities and rural towns across Australia.

This trip, which started on the Gold Coast, will see Butcher touch down in 46 towns, covering 20,000 kms over nine weeks, and bringing hope to hundreds of kids who are struggling.

Eight-year-old Armani Mercer and her older brothers, Coen and Harlem, from Innisfail, were given a Kids + Champions’ joy flight by Butcher, at the King Reef Resort Family Fun Day at Kurrimine Beach. 

“Armani is such a strong, brave, young girl with a heart of gold and was so eager to jump in the chopper and go for a spin.” 

Armani is terminally ill with Metachromatic Leukodystrophy (MLD), which is a rare, genetic, degenerative neurometabolic disorder, which affects approximately one in 40,000 people worldwide, primarily children. 

“We are in awe of this family’s strength during the toughest times, especially Armani’s older brothers for their courage, resilience, and devotion to their little sister.”

Butcher said the purpose behind his dream to fly around Australia to help kids was inspired by the amazing work done by his mother, who has been a Kids Hope Mentor for 15 years. 

Current figures reveal every day 1,300 Australian children are so low they are contacting kids’ counselling hotlines with a cry for help, which is a 40% increase in 12 months.

“Many children are feeling isolated, disconnected, anxious, and alone, so they need to know they are loved and supported.”

“So far we have saved 150 kids and raised enough funds to get them into a mentoring program. However, our aim is to reach 1,000 by the end the tour.” 

The project is raising funds and awareness for Kids Hope Australia, which has been operating for over 16 years.

Kids Hope is Australia’s largest early intervention, school-based, mentoring program. 

Thousands of children have been supported by the care and support provided by Kids Hope, which has transformed lives, resulting in their increased confidence, resilience, and joy.

The funds raised will help Kids Hope to recruit, train, and empower volunteer mentors to become a presence of stability, care, and support for vulnerable children. 

Each mentor is matched to one child.

A donation from as little as $6 goes directly to Kids Hope, which will place a mentor with a child at their school for an hour each week, while $25 will put a mentor with a child for a month.

Anyone who would like to create positive change in the lives of Australian children, can join the team and become a champion.

Donations can be made via the website www.kidsandchampions.org so, please give generously and help brighten a child’s future.

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