Special moment as Tahs bring festive cheer to sick kids
RUGBY UNION: NSW Waratahs lock Jed Holloway was a face of determination as he threaded the hole and put the finishing touches on the loose ends.
But it wasn't a long-range Super Rugby five-pointer he was scoring but the smiles of a sick five-year-old girl.
Armed with kid-safe craft scissors and a box of colourful beads, Holloway led a group of his Waratahs teammates as they brought joy to the kids at Sydney Children's Hospital, making bracelets and singing all the favourite Christmas carols.
Fellow Yamba Buccaneers junior and newly-signed Waratahs player Cody Walker was also a part of the crew who worked closely with staff at the Starlight Children's Foundation.
Holloway, who spends most of his spare time around the Starlight rooms as the Waratahs Starlight ambassador, said it was a special moment for both the kids and the players.
"It is coming close to Christmas time, so we were at the hospital to spread a bit of cheer to all the sick kids around the wards,” he said.
"A couple of the boys brought presents for the kids, so we handed those out. We just want to help these kids escape from the harsh reality of the hospital, forget what is going on in their life and give them a reason to smile.
"It is also a good opportunity to show these boys how good they have it, and give them a bit of perspective.”
Holloway has been a Starlight ambassador for a year now and was spurred into the role after losing his cousin Liam Jerrems to a long battle with leukaemia.
Jerrems was diagnosed with the disease when he was nine-years-old and fought it until he lost the battle when he was 20. That was in 2003, and 14 years later Holloway still carries his cousin's spirit with him when he visits the wards.
"This is huge for me,” Holloway said. "I lost my cousin when I was really young and I know Starlight did a lot for him and my family and it meant a lot to him.
"Now that I am in a position to help out, I try to do that as much as I can. I do a lot around the Starlight rooms. We do a lot, from lunches and dinners to just spending time with the kids. Anything I can put my hand up for, I love to get involved.”
Being the week leading up to Christmas, a naturally happy time for most families, Holloway said visiting the ward took on extra importance for the Waratahs.
"It is such a happy time of year and you hate seeing people struggling under the financial pressures of being in and out of hospital,” he said. "I know it isn't cheap and it isn't fun either. Any way that we can as team help out and maybe change their day, we will do.
"We do have it very good as rugby players and we're living the dream. Some people in here don't get the luxury of saying that so hopefully we can help them and give them a step in the right direction.”