Brightening the lives of grieving children

Winmalee brothers Liam, Aiden, Tyson and Zac are about to head off on a trip of a lifetime — to Disneyland California — and it’s all thanks to a new Hawkesbury-based charity called Feel the Magic.

Winmalee brothers Tyson, Liam, Aiden and Zac are heading off to Disneyland thanks to Feel the Magic.

Winmalee brothers Tyson, Liam, Aiden and Zac are heading off to Disneyland thanks to Feel the Magic.

The brothers lost their mum in a truck accident and are now being raised by their grandparents Linda and Neil Byrne and family friends.

When the Feel the Magic charity heard their story, they were chosen as the second family to benefit from the not-for-profit organisation from Pitt Town.

Mrs Byrne said the boys mother — her youngest daughter Mallory —died instantly in a car crash on the October long weekend in 2010, a passenger in a car that collided with a truck.

“My daughter was 23 when she died, she left behind four young children who, at that time, were Liam, 4, Aiden and Tyson, aged three, and two-year-old Zac. Thankfully, the children were not with her at the time of her death.”

Mrs Byrne said her daughter had been in an abusive relationship and “the grief was overwhelming on so many levels”.

“Explaining what had happened, in terms that a four-year-old could understand, broke my heart. Knowing that these boys would never feel her hugs again, that their future children would never know the love of a paternal grandmother. The grief and the impact of her death would be felt for generations to come.” 

Mrs Byrne has given up work to raise two of the boys but was unable to take them all.

“One of the most difficult and heartbreaking decisions I have ever made was to split the boys up. I needed to realise my physical capabilities as well as the financial necessities of raising four very young children.The boys now live in separate homes with Liam and Zac living with me and their grandfather, while the twins live with very close friends of the family,” she said.

The boys were now “all at school and so excited to be chosen for this most wonderful of gifts. It will be that first time that they will have had a holiday together since they were separated from each other,” she said.

They leave for the trip on May 4 and Liam will celebrate his eighth birthday while he is away.

Nominated by daughter Alexis, she was “so humbled to be chosen by the organisation” considering others were “much more worthy”. 

“I will be forever in gratitude to Feel the Magic for selecting our boys, I know that they will have the time of their lives and the memories will last forever.”

Feel the Magic was founded by parents James and Kristy Thomas last year following a trip with their son to Disneyland. The Hawkesbury-based couple know the pain that comes with losing someone you love. As a little girl, Kristy lost her older brother Corey to leukemia. Three years ago, James’ mother died suddenly of a brain aneurysm. Feel The Magic does not receive any government funding.

“Our mission is to brighten the lives of kids who have lost someone they love,’’ Mr Thomas said.

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