Ollie Bailey-O’Reilly has had to endure more in his nine years than most people do in a lifetime.
At just 2, he lost his famous musician dad Chris Bailey – bassist for GANGgajang and The Angels – to throat cancer and just two years later, was himself diagnosed with brain cancer.
And despite his rough start to life, felt so passionate about helping others, has raised more than $50,000 for the Sydney Children’s Hospital Foundation who saved his life.
Ollie is one of 44 families from Sydney Catholic Schools who has faced a challenging year and now treated to a VIP experience at The Lights of Christmas opening tomorrow night at St Mary’s Cathedral.
Celebrating its 10th year, the event is renowned as Sydney’s premier celebration of the festive season, sharing stories of peace, joy and goodwill.
Ollie raised the money through the screening of a junior version of the box office smash The Greatest Showman which he created, cast and staged himself and was screened at the Randwick Ritz cinema.
A huge fan of the musical, he also starred in the 48 minute movie to a sell-out audience.
Ollie’s mum Jo O’Reilly said she was thrilled to be attending The Lights of Christmas and having her son’s hard work and tough start recognised and rewarded.
She said that while he has been through a lot, he has bounced back and continually thinks of others.
“I am so proud of everything Ollie has done and continues to do,” she said.
“Obviously music is a big inspiration for him, not only from his dad but it helped him on his recovery journey and now, in remission, he is drawing on his musical talents and kind heart to help others.
“His school and family educator have been so supportive throughout his life and we are so very thankful.
“To have this recognition really is very lovely for him.”
Sydney Catholic School Family Educator development officer Mouna Roche said it was lovely to be able to give something to some families who have been doing it tough.
She said some of those attending the event included a young father who was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year, a young student with ongoing serious medical conditions since birth and foster parents caring for children with special needs.
She said giving them a VIP experience to enjoy some world-class entertainment and festive cheer was a lovely aspect of the role.
“An important component of the Family Educator involves building authentic relationships within their community,”’ she said.
“Families that experience challenges are supported by their school and parish through the Family Educator and their work.
“The Family Educator is the face-of-Christ for those needing care and support during times of difficulty.”
The Lights of Christmas opens tomorrow night at St Mary’s Cathedral and runs until December 24. Choirs perform at 7.30pm with the light show running from 8.30-11pm each night.
Food trucks open from 5pm and the venue is wheelchair accessible.