A SYDNEY couple who have rarely left the city since their daughter was born with a disability have praised Ronald McDonald Family Retreat Fiona Lodge and the businesses that support it.
Adam and Natalie Palmer arrived at the peaceful Rosedale property on New Year’s Eve for a treasured week with Noah, seven, Lara, four, and Luke, two.
Lara was diagnosed at three months with Aicardi syndrome, a rare genetic disorder which causes seizures, developmental delay and prevents her walking and talking.
It did not prevent her, however, from having a blast at the lodge and at the many Eurobodalla venues who provided gift vouchers for the family.
“Lara may not walk or talk for her whole life and they don’t know about life expectancy either,” Mr Palmer said.
“There are probably only 400 people in the world with her condition.”
Holidays, he said, “just don’t happen”.
“Getting her around is impossible. She can’t bear weight in her legs. Just the amount of gear we need on a daily trip is enough to put you off.”
Yet Fiona Lodge was “brilliant”, not just for Lara but for her siblings.
“It is like a reward for putting up with a lot of crap through the year,” Mr Palmer said.
“We would never get the chance otherwise. We thrive on services like Fiona Lodge.
“Not only was the lodge a great place, but so were all the activities provided. It was huge. There was Mogo Zoo, Birdland, a free cruise on the river. McDonalds pitched in vouchers, Tomakin Sports and Social Club gave us a free dinner and we visited the Original Gold Rush Colony at Mogo.
“The kids loved it. It gave them something to race out the door for in the morning. If the businesses don’t support something like this, it does not exist.”
In gratitude Mr Palmer, who runs the Lara Jean Association, has purchased two highchairs for the lodge, to make feeding easier.
His only regret was that the trail down to Rosedale beach from the lodge was too rough for Lara to access.