EIGHT-YEAR-OLD Ruby Small has never been able to talk to, play with or hug her older sister Sophie.
But that has not stopped the 10-year-old from helping Ruby and other children who are sick or have a disability.
Sophie started a money-raising quest a few weeks ago by making a flyer, which she delivered to houses in her street, offering to wash people’s cars for $5.
Sophie said she thought a car wash business was a good venture because she liked playing with water.
“I thought it would be fun,” she said.
Sophie’s motivation is clearly focused on helping Ruby and children like those she often sees in hospital.
“When I go with Ruby to hospital I walk past other doors and see children in the rooms, just lying there.”
With some proceeds, Sophie is filling a treasure box with treats she can give to children in hospital or their siblings who spend time in waiting rooms.
The gifts include soft toys, stationery, bubbles, hair ties and bouncy balls.
She also wants to help fund Ruby’s therapy and medical needs.
Sophie’s mother Rebecca Glover spread the word about her daughter’s efforts and, when offers started coming in, helped her set up a blog and crowdfunding page.
Ms Glover said some people wanted to support Sophie’s efforts, but lived in other parts of the city or were happy to help without receiving anything in return.
Within a few weeks, Sophie was more than halfway in reaching her goal of raising $1000.
Ms Glover said she was humbled by her daughter wanting to help Ruby and children in need.
“In the middle of the continuous stress and concern you carry as a parent and caregiver of a child with complex needs, you sometimes forget the immense strength, adaptability, courage and feeling of helplessness of your other child or children,” Ms Glover said.
“They too want to help and make a difference.”
Ms Glover said trying to access funding was difficult as processes seemed to be on hold until the introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
She said costs, such as therapy, equipment, fuel and hospital parking, mounted up.
Ms Glover said Ruby did not have an official diagnosis, but she had never spoken, was fed through a tube in her stomach, needed to be lifted or hoisted, and needed attention throughout the night
“Ruby is unable to enjoy the same foods as Sophie. They have never been able to play chase or enjoy park equipment together,” she said.
“Despite the many challenges, medical interventions and 24/7 care Ruby needs, Sophie is always there for her and plays the protective big sister.”
There is little doubt Sophie may also have been inspired by her mother’s entrepreneurial spirit.
After making an $80,000 deal with Steve Baxter and John McGrath during the first season of Shark Tank, Ms Glover and business partner Leah James went on to open Ruby and Ollie’s, Queensland’s first all-inclusive child care centre, based at Alexandra Hills.
The centre can accommodate 13 children, but has a waiting list of more than 100 families.
Ms Glover said she was passionate about building awareness of people with a disability, who might need help.
She said every family with a special needs child could benefit from having people to provide support – even mowing the lawn or buying a coffee for a parent during a hospital stay – and help raise money.
“I would encourage people to offer help if they see a family struggling. Don’t be afraid to ask how you can assist.”