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Helping families capture magic moments in time

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Connar Gibson was two years old when Monica Halliday met him.

He was a cheeky little boy who had just started at her family daycare and, within a few years, he was getting ready to go to big school.

But, after almost a year of donning his school uniform, Connar was diagnosed with a brain tumour.

He was five and had to embark on the fight of his life.

After hearing about the shattering news, Monica started Fight for Connar to help raise money to support the family.

“I wanted to help the family make memories,” she said.

“So, we started to raise money.”

The money they raised was used to help Connar after his surgery to remove the tumour.

The surgery left him with cerebellar mutism, a condition where he could no longer talk, walk or interact.

To help with this syndrome, Monica raised funds for him to go to physiotherapy, speech therapy and Riding for the Disabled through the Fight for Connar initiative.

“We wanted to see what parts of his brain responded,” Monica said.

“He started to gain his speech back and mobility; we got a bit of the little boy back.”

Monica Halliday with her little hero, Connar Gibson.

But then, in 2015, things went from bad to worse when the tumour returned.

It was inoperable. A year later, in October, Connar lost his battle.

Monica said her favourite memory of Connar was his sense of humour.

“He would always say: ’If you whisper, you’re allowed to swear’,” she said.

“He loved to swear, he would constantly whisper the f-bomb.

“Connar had an amazing sense of humour, he was a funny boy, everyone loved him.

“At his funeral there were so many people there, they were there for that little boy.”

To celebrate his legacy, Fight for Connar continues to raise funds to support other families with terminally ill children.

Monica said their work had halted a little bit because of the pandemic but it remained important.

“During the pandemic we’ve completely pulled the pin on events – our fundraising this year is just our merchandise,” she said.

“But it is still tough for our families, they are more isolated than ever.

“Funerals [in particular] because they have to choose who can go to say goodbye.”

Monica added the pandemic had been both challenging and rewarding.

Fight for Connar
Monica Halliday reading a story to Conner and three-year-old Vivienne. Photo: Peter Stoop

“You go through a miserable time but then you have that reality check that you’re healthy, you’re not burying your children,” she said.  

“It has allowed us to refocus and work towards next year.

“It’s also given us the chance to go back to the start – the majority of what we do is about helping families make memories, we want to capture that magic moment in time.”

Monica was nominated in the Westfield Local Heroes community grants program earlier this year.

She said it was an honour to be among the finalists.

“It’s a lovely feeling to know that people see the value in what you’re doing,” she said.

“We know that what we do is good but it’s nice to have that reassurance.”

To vote for Monica and Fight for Connar, go to the Westfield Kotara website.

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