ACT News


Lily's story inspires big-hearted crowd

The story of seven-year-old heart attack survivor Lily Haskins, of Queanbeyan, softened the hearts of those attending the Heart Foundation's charity race day named after Phar Lap, the champion race horse with a big heart.

After her attack, Lily had a pacemaker and defibrillator surgically implanted and needed to take medication. Her mother, Catherine Haskins, says Lily is able to live a relatively normal life now.

''There's a lot of things she can't do, but generally, because the medication has really evened out she hasn't had any heart events, which means we don't really have to spend our lives worrying as much any more,'' she said.

The ''Bigger Than Phar Lap's Heart Race Day'' at Thoroughbred Park on Sunday sought to raise awareness and funds to combat heart disease.

''It's good to get out some of our supporters … together to help raise some funds for us,'' Heart Foundation chief executive Tony Stubbs said.

''But mainly, it's actually about highlighting the issue of heart disease in the ACT.


''It's the biggest killer of men and women in Canberra. It also affects children … and it's a big killer of children as well too.''

''[The Heart Foundation] have used Lily's story, which they've since videoed, I think to really pinpoint to people it's not just adults that have heart attacks and cardiac arrests, that … children are also at risk as well,'' Mrs Haskins said.

Mr Stubbs said the Heart Foundation and Thoroughbred Park have had ''preliminary discussions'' about making it an annual event.

''If we have a good fund-raising outcome today then certainly we'll be having a debrief … seeing if we can make it an annual event.'' Mr Stubbs said.

It was Lily's first time at the races but she wasn't able to offer any tips for those willing to take a punt.

''You'll have to read the form guide; you've got a bit more studying to do,'' Mrs Haskins said.