SUPPORT: Ellie Topliff.
SUPPORT: Ellie Topliff.

Terminal illness program develops bond for Ellie

A LITTLE ray of sunshine which lit up the world of Sunshine Coast parents is leaving her mark on the world despite a terminal illness.

Ellie Topliff's love of swimming, uplifting sense of humour, bubbly personality, unforgettable smile, gift of making beautiful memories plus an unbreakable family bond inspired others to ensure her footprint will remain on our golden sands forever.

Tewantin parents Catherine and Joel Topliff stood courageously in the face of adversity after their daughter was diagnosed with rare Tay-Sachs Disease which will claim her life within years.

Tay-Sachs Disease is genetically inherited. People with Tay-Sachs miss an important gene which supports breaking down a fatty material named ganglioside GM2. This material builds up in the brain causing neurological problems and damages nerve cells.

The fatal diagnosis left them with no choice but to treasure each moment.

"We cherish each moment and never take anything for granted especially health," her father said.

"We're making the most of each day and making memories.

"I love the photo where she wore a little pink pair of ear muffs, gave us a big smile, touched her ears with her hand and started to giggle."

The family have shared their story so other people can pick up on early developmental delays and get the support they need.

"If you think there is something wrong ask the question. We found out because we kept on asking," Catherine said.

The family signed up for Horizon Foundation's Baby Bridges early intervention program which provided them with an opportunity to gain much-needed support and uniquely bond with their daughter through a special activity.

Aqua therapy enabled Ellie to practise new techniques in a weightless environment supported by an occupational therapist with her parents in the aquatic centre.

"She loves the water and that is how we found out about Baby Bridges," Catherine said.

"She had her legs kicking around - I think if she could be a mermaid she would be," Joel said.

"Doing those classes, interacting with parents and bonding closely with Ellie in the classes made it definitely worthwhile.

"We all sing songs and play games and interact as fathers and mothers.

"We found out we're not alone.

"We are now looking at joining the next program."

Horizon Foundation's Baby Bridges program is a unique early intervention program for children with a disability from newborn to five years old. It combines play with respite where parents see specialised therapists for free.

On the Sunshine Coast Baby Bridges is administered by Sunshine Butterflies.

People interested in enrolling should telephone (07) 5470 2830 for more information.