Media/Ryde girl and teen with cerebral palsy inspire Australia’s business leaders to hit $10 million milestone for kids with cerebral palsy

Ryde girl and teen with cerebral palsy inspire Australia’s business leaders to hit $10 million milestone for kids with cerebral palsy

Little Milla Griffin and teenager Andrew Rotondo help CBD Golf Escape! hit the big time in its 20th year

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Ryde girl and teen with cerebral palsy inspire Australia’s business leaders to hit $10 million milestone for kids with cerebral palsy
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Six-year-old Milla Griffin from Hunters Hill and 17-year-old Andrew Rotondo from Ryde, who both have cerebral palsy, have helped inspire the who’s who of Australia’s business world to dig deep and hit the $10 million mark at one of the country’s biggest single fundraising events.

The pair’s stories featured at the 20th annual CBD Golf Escape!, which has just wrapped up after three days in the Hunter Valley. It was attended by more than 500 people and included golf, wine tours, kids’ activities and a gala fundraising dinner.

Milla’s and Andrew’s stories about how technology has changed their lives, enabled participants to see first-hand how their donations would help.

They were so inspiring, attendees dug deep with the event raising an incredible $1.9 million for Cerebral Palsy Alliance. This takes the total funds raised at the event over two decades to a staggering $10.5 million.

‘We are overwhelmed and incredibly humbled by the generosity of the many thousands of participants at the CBD Golf Escape! over its 20 year history’, said Cerebral Palsy Alliance CEO Rob White.

‘To raise $10.5 million is a milestone beyond our wildest expectations, but what is more remarkable is the lives this money has changed. From providing therapy to help children with cerebral palsy walk and communicate, to funding much-needed equipment and support services for families, the money raised by the CBD Golf Escape! has helped countless families and children over several generations.

‘That makes every single participant of the CBD Golf Escape! a hero in anyone’s book.’

Milla is now in Year 1 at Truscott Street Public School at North Ryde. CBD Golf Escape! attendees heard how her communication device has opened up her world. Her mum Suzan says it has become her reading tool, her writing tool and bridged the gap between expressive and receptive language.

‘She can talk to her class buddies now’, Suzan said. ‘They can ask her questions and she loves to answer them and talk about what she got up to over the weekend.

‘In terms of school work, we scan handouts onto her device so Milla can access these worksheets and complete them independently as the device is her writing tool. She uses her device for reading, writing and spelling and she would also use it to speak about her ‘subject’ once a week .

‘As Milla grows and develops, we know we’ll have to introduce new aspects to the device too, and that’s where Cerebral Palsy Alliance comes in. We can work through challenges by building up the device or language settings accordingly.’

Event attendees were told how Andrew and his family worked with Cerebral Palsy Alliance’s Ryde team to identify technology that would help him gain some independence. His wheelchair, computer, television and now the entire house have been ‘connected’ and adapted for Andrew’s use.

‘I use my wheelchair to turn on and operate the TV as well as the DVD player and Foxtel’, Andrew said. ‘I can also Skype from my wheelchair to talk to my cousins in Italy and my grandfather on the Gold Coast. I can even open Skype using voice control. I can also use my joystick on my wheelchair as a Bluetooth mouse too.

‘I do my homework using the computer and sometimes my iPad, and when I’m finished I email it to my teacher or import it to software I use to take notes at school on my iPad. ‘

Andrew’s dad Angelo says adapting technology to suit Andrew’s needs has given him much-sought-after independence.

‘Technology is definitely Andrew’s life’, Angelo said. ‘He would certainly be lost without it. It’s a means for learning, it’s a hobby – it’s a way of life for him. He relies on it very heavily.’

Rob White said he thanked Milla and Andrew and other families who selflessly allowed their stories to be told at the CBD Golf Escape! to inspire participants to so generously donate.

‘My sincere thanks also go to our CBD Golf Escape! committee, including long-time chairman Bruce Thomas, as well as Ian Mayer and Chatswood Toyota for their ongoing support’, Mr White said.

‘Every single cent of that $10.5 million raised over the last 20 years has helped us provide vital therapy, services, equipment and research into cerebral palsy, which is the most common physical disability affecting Australian kids.’

Media Contact: Jennifer Durante – Media Manager – (02) 9975 8758 / 0419 802 602


Released on 25 Mar 2014