From the outside the Rudds seem just like any other Aussie family. The reality is they’ve been dealt a very rough hand.
A sporadic mutation means Jamie and Jessica’s son Nicholas was born with severe congenital neutropenia – a serious condition where something as small as a paper cut could turn into a deadly infection for the three-year-old. The cure is a highly risky bone marrow transplant.
To add to their woes, their other son Lachlan, who will eventually provide the bone marrow, has to go through major surgery of his own – the six-month-old’s skull has fused too early.
As soon as we told Chicken Mick about their story, he jumped on board straight away. He’d never met the Rudds before, but he just wanted to put a smile on little Nicholas’s face. Within a few weeks he had a team of helpers on board. They had just 72 hours to turn the house upside down, while the Rudds were on holiday on the Gold Coast. None of us were sure he could get it done.
From the first strike of the hammer, we all knew we were a part of something special. There was such great camaraderie on the site. The carpenters were helping out the landscapers, while the landscapers worked with the concreters, and there was Chicken Mick motivating them along the way.
It was infectious and myself and the crew couldn’t help but get caught up in it. When we weren’t filming we were wheeling barrel loads of concrete and dirt, digging holes, lending a hand wherever we could.Nicholas’s grandparents were looking after the barbeque, keeping a close eye on the developments. They were overwhelmed with the support. Most of the tradies turned up to put in a couple of hours and ended up staying the whole weekend. They were looking for work, they just wanted to be involved and make sure that the end product was the best it could be.
It was a mad dash to the finish line. The most stressful moment was trying to predict when the Rudds would get home. The last thing we wanted was for them to arrive in the middle of the clean-up.
Luckily everything went off without a hitch. Jamie and Jessica were taken aback at first - I suppose you would be when there are three camera crews standing on your driveway. When they walked out that back door and saw all those people, their emotions got the better off them. They were speechless.
Within one weekend, their entire lives had been flipped upside down for the better. They had a new house and a safe place for Nicholas to play. The moment he spotted that cubby house was priceless.Jamie and Jessica just kept saying “I can’t believe people out there actually care, you think they’re just caught up in their own little world,” but not Chicken Mick.
There is no doubt Chicken Mick proves that the Aussie spirit is alive and well. It was truly an honour to work with him and it’s a story I’ll be telling people for years to come. He has a big heart, and so do all those tradies and businesses that helped Nicholas and his parents realise their dreams.
It’s the spirit we all have inside of us; we just need someone like Chicken Mick to inspire us.This reporter is on Twitter at @AdamMarshallTT
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