Chris Hollonds has a heart for helping kids

CHRIS Hollonds had his first open heart surgery when he was just three days old.

Further surgery at Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital followed when he was three, then 12.

It is then no surprise he is so committed to giving something back.

This year will be his third as the Mount Beauty- Tawonga area manager for the hospital’s annual Good Friday appeal.

Mr Hollonds said there had been an appeal committee in the area since the late 1980s.

“My grandparents star-ted doing it, and then it got passed on down the family,” he said.

“It’s been a family thing for about 28 years.”

Mr Hollonds said the appeal was his main way of giving back “to what I’ve taken from being at the hospital myself”.

“It’s nice to know what you’re doing is going to help other kids and make a difference,” he said.

“I’ve been collecting mon- ey for the appeal since I was old enough to do so.”

Mr Hollonds was born with congenital heart disease — he had two holes in his heart, a missing valve and his aortic arch was not joined.

“Between those three things they created new paths, new donor parts went in and away we went,” he said.

“They’ve been replaced over the years — that’s what those following two surgeries were for.”

Mr Hollonds, 27, said he would face at least one more major surgery.

“I’ve got a defibrillator in as well, I have that changed every seven or so years,” he said.

“But heart-wise, who knows — it could be the next year or two, it could be another 10 years before they do anything else.”

Mr Hollonds said he had lived a normal life because of the hospital.

“I get tired out pretty easy because of having a not so perfect heart, so I don’t overdo it,” he said.

“But I do foster care work as well pretty much full-time, and I’ve devoted my life to kids now.”

The Upper Murray Family Care’s youngest carer, Mr Hollonds was last October awarded the organisation’s Betty Mc-Lean Award for his work.

He said the committee hoped to again raise more than $10,000 this year.

The committee’s focus is on the month leading up to the April 18 appeal, including a raffle, though money boxes are in the area all year round.

Mr Hollonds said the appeal was dear to many people’s hearts.

“There’s a lot of kids who have been through the children’s hospital in the Mount Beauty-Tawonga area, so you can’t go far without speaking to someone who knows something about it,” he said.

“And being a holiday town you get a lot of people from Melbourne on that Easter weekend.”

Mr Hollands appealed to anyone willing to help as an appeal volunteer to turn up at the Mount Beauty fire station on Good Friday at 9am.

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