Addison Mortimore, 9, uses birthday to raise money for RACQ CQ Rescue chopper service
For many children birthdays are about one thing — presents.
But for nine-year-old Addison Mortimore from Mackay, it’s a chance to do something to help others.
For the past four years she has asked for people to instead donate money to her local rescue helicopter service.
Her mum Christine said the idea came about after her daughter announced she didn’t want “stuff”.
“It started when she was in prep and we were coming home from a party and she announced that she didn’t want a party for her birthday,” Ms Mortimore said.
“When I asked her why she said there was just so much stuff and ‘I don’t need all that stuff.'”
Addison said she wanted to donate to CQ Rescue because the service had helped someone she knew.
“One of my friend’s dads was in a crash at the mines and the chopper came and got him,” she said.
“This is more important to me”.
In the past four years, Addison has raised more than $800 for CQ Rescue.
Her selflessness and care for the community has amazed the crew and staff.
“It’s truly inspiring that someone so young has such consideration for her community,” fundraising coordinator Zenta Martin-Szpyt said.
“I cried — it’s unbelievable that she’s done something like this.
“I would never have thought like that when I was younger. I was too selfish!”
Ms Martin-Szpyt said the pilots and other crew were thrilled to meet Addison.
“[Pilot] Owen was so amazed by what she did that he ripped off the patches from his uniform,” she said.
“That rarely happens, but he was astounded by her efforts.”
Addison’s mum Christine said those patches are now her daughter’s most-prized possessions.
She said Addison is ‘obsessed’ with the rescue chopper.
“Now if she hears a chopper she goes outside to see if it’s the rescue helicopter,” she said.
“She loves it and they’re her friends.”
Costs on the rise
CQ Rescue said donations like Addison’s are crucial to keep the community-funded service in the air.
Annual operating costs are now more than $10 million, half of which comes from sponsorships and fundraising.
The costs are set to increase as fuel prices rise along with demand for the service.
Last year the service clocked up more than 1,300 flying hours and attended 704 jobs, including a record number of road crashes.
Ms Martin-Szpyt said the service was valued by the community.
“The costs of running the choppers, paying for the crew, our costs are astronomical,” she said.
“People understand the value of our service and sometimes we’re the only way of getting people out of the situation they’re in.”
Going in to the hangar to drop off the money she’s raised is one of the highlights of Addison’s year and is a huge source of pride for her mum.
“It makes me feel pretty proud,” Ms Mortimore said.
“She’s a smart girl and whatever she sets her mind to, she’ll do.”
The visits also give Addison a glimpse into her dream career.
“She said the other day, ‘When I grow up I might work at the rescue helicopter,'” Ms Mortimore said.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if she does it.”