26 May 2016
Heart-shaped hands of the Fitzsimons Family
By Bruce Madden, Financial Media Services.
Rarely can those suffering tragic loss transcend sorrow to open new and unexpected opportunities for growth and positivity, even enrichment.
It takes a special instinct and resilience to envision and galvanise around the potential for good when thrown suddenly into the darkness of grief.
Negativity in loss was not a long-term reality for the wonderful, inspiring Fitzsimons family.
Faced with the worst kind of news that no parent or sibling wants to hear, father Vince, mum Julie, sister Kate and brother Matt have within four years turned the heart wrenching loss of their beloved Nicole into a practical, positive journey that both honours her, but also reaches out to support Australia’s budding sports and creative arts stars of the future.
And through sister Kate, the Nicole Fitzsimons Foundation, with its logo of two hands forming the shape of a heart, also offers a program of unique and compelling messages to educate and guide young Australians about their own future wise choices when travelling overseas.
The idea for the Foundation began around the family kitchen table. It came not long after the Fitzsimons family, clients of Fitzpatricks, received the terrible news in October 2012 that Nicole, just 24 years of age and on the verge of a blossoming career in TV, had tragically passed away.
Nicole was the victim of an horrific road accident on the eve of her last day of an overseas holiday to Thailand.
Says Vince: “The raw emotion at the time was unbelievable. We knew we wanted to do something, to honour Nicole’s life as a great ballerina and dancer but also as a special person who made friends easily and who touched many lives in her 24 short years. So the idea to support others in the creative arts and sport was created.
“But, after that, we worked out that we needed to do more so that other families don’t suffer what we have gone through. That work – educating kids in schools about travel safety – was taken up by Kate and is now the public face of the Foundation.”
Says 23 year-old Kate: “I just wanted to stand up and make my sister’s story – her life – mean something. In the pain of losing my sister, I had the choice to play victim… or move forward and create greater meaning, along the way hoping to heal my heart and my family’s heart.
Kate’s raw messages and travel statistics serve as a wake-up call to young adults in their final years of high school. She backs her touching story of personal pain with confronting facts: 146 Aussies died in Thailand last year alone. Many more Australians die in Thailand every year than in New Zealand, despite twice as many of us visiting NZ annually (and only 8 Australian deaths in NZ per year).
Some 6000 school leavers will head to Bali this year for ‘schoolies’ celebrations facing inherent risks, cultural differences and vastly different road safety standards.
Kate has so far delivered her message to 20,000 students at over 200 schools around the country. Her “woman on a mission” goal is to not only save lives, but turn around the national consciousness of young Australians leaving our shores for their first overseas trip, with all the excitement of newfound independence.
To learn more about the school’s awareness programme, watch this short video here:
A motto of Fitzpatricks Private Wealth is to live life on purpose. The purposeful approach of the Fitzsimons family, wrapping their heart-shaped hands around an ongoing legacy for Nicole and the good of strangers, is both a remarkable and inspiring act of triumph.