How an 18 month old girl inspired 150 golfers from NSW Police and the business community

Heartfelt thanks: Wollongong Police sergeant Charlie Hutchins thanks golfers from the Police and business community before tee off at the Rob Sasagi Golf Day. Picture: Greg Ellis.
Heartfelt thanks: Wollongong Police sergeant Charlie Hutchins thanks golfers from the Police and business community before tee off at the Rob Sasagi Golf Day. Picture: Greg Ellis.

More than 150 people at the second annual Police Legacy Golf Day heard a moving story of how the funds they raise are helping local families in May.

Police officers and the local business community came out in force at the Kiama Golf Club to raise money for the families of sick or injured Police officers and others who have died.

The inaugural event in 2018 was hosted by the Wollongong branch of the Police Association and the Illawarra Police Golf Club. It was so successful they decided to do it again. And the players did not have to look far for inspiration.

Before tee off Sergeant Charlie Hutchins spoke of how Police Legacy had helped him, his wife Tamara, daughter Alba and her sister Callie who was struck down with a potentially deadly virus soon after she was born.

Precious girl: Tam Hutchins with Callie at 13 months of age. Picture: Adam McLean

Precious girl: Tam Hutchins with Callie at 13 months of age. Picture: Adam McLean

When Callie was diagnosed with a human parechovirus the infection had life-threatening implications because she was a premature baby.

In fact it nearly proved fatal for Callie. A week after she was born in October 2017 she broke out in a bright red rash all over her body and started having apnoea. Her heart-rate soared when she stopped breathing and she was rushed to intensive car at Sydney Children's Hospital.

She then started having seizures and was placed on life support for three days Scans confirmed the virus had caused extensive brain damage due inflammation of the brain.

There is no cure for Callie but the Hutchins family is leaving no stone unturned for treatment that will help.

Callie who has already been to the world-renowned Napa therapy centre in LA and is visiting the Sydney Napa centre twice in 2019. In August she will travel to Panama for stem cell therapy.

Such therapies do not come cheap and the Hutchins family expressed its gratitude to Police Legacy and all those at the golf day who helped raise funds for Callie's Cause.

"Thank you very much on behalf of myself, my family and particularly Callie for being here today," Sgt Hutchins said.

"Obviously she is a very important part of my life and we do everything we can do for our children. We are very appreciative of your support and for participating in this golf day.

Callie spent three days on life support in Sydney Children's Hospital.

Callie spent three days on life support in Sydney Children's Hospital.

"When Callie was born 18 months ago she was perfectly healthy for about the first six days and then she got a virus which essentially attacked her brain and she suffered a relatively high amount of brain damage.

"Unfortunately because she was a premature baby it affected her a lot more.

"As a result of that she suffers from cerebral palsy, cortical visual impairment which could possibly mean she will be blind for the rest of her life and also a global developmental delay.

"Her developmental delay is obvious to us at the moment. She is 18 months old and she can't sit, she can't talk and has very low vision. She is legally blind but hopefully with treatment she will be able to read things very close up.

"Initially my wife's friends got together and started doing some fundraising for us when they found out how much all the expenses are.

"The most important part for us now is that for the first two years of life whatever you can do with the brain, and whatever treatment we can get for her, that is all going to benefit her later in life.

"So we are basically throwing everything at it at the moment and probably will for the next couple of years".

Sgt Hutchins said many people have come on board to help with fundraising including Police Bank, Police Legacy and many businesses and organisations.

"Everyone at work has been helping as well. And we just want to say thank you very much. We appreciate your help very much".

Police Association Wollongong branch official Sergeant Robert Minns said the Rob Sasagi Golf Day was named in honour of the late Sergeant Rob Sasagi who lost his long battle with terminal cancer not long after the first golf day in 2018.

Funds raised last year helped put his two children through school.

Sgt Sasagi only agreed to letting his name be used as long as the proceeds went to other families in need.

And that was was the case again this year with the help of many Police personnel, business people and three teams from the army.

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This story How 18 month old girl inspired 150 golfers first appeared on Illawarra Mercury.