Melbourne Cup Masthead

HeartKids: Climbing high

Wendy Johnson

Every day in Australia, eight babies are born with a heart defect.

It’s a tough start to life and the stress on families is difficult. Daniel Cummins knows how tough it is. His little brother, Will, was born premature with a complex, chromosome syndrome. Will passed away at age 12 after the heart defect he had since birth became too much for his body to take. He would have been 28 years of age this year.

In honour of Will, Daniel organises an annual fundraising event, the HeartKids Hillclimb Race, which is on at Fairbairn race track this Sunday 21 February (9am to 4pm).

It’s a free event featuring 45 race car drivers who will peel their way at super speeds around the sealed, 1-km tarmac track to raise awareness of, and funds for, kids with heart disease and their families. This year a former chief engineer who used to work at Formula One will be on site racing.


Will Cummins

The inspiration behind a car race was Will himself. He was crazy about racing cars. Indeed, he was passionate about any car. He had a collection of 100 matchbox cars and a Playstation car racing game. “Getting his learner’s license and driving a cool black car was the last thing we spoke about,’ says Daniel, ‘but Will never made it.”

The drugs and technology used for the type of illness Will suffered have come a long way, but ongoing research and funding support is needed.


HeartKids Hillclimb raised about $12,000 last year, bring total funds raised since Daniel started the event started in 2009 to $55,000. It’s free to attend and is a great family day out with the race drivers taking time out in-between their time trials to drive kids around the race track for free (slowly of course). Face painting and other family activities are all part of the event.

Funds are raised through entry fees, sponsorships from business, raffle ticket sales and food and drink sold on the day to participants and spectators. They are used by HeartKids in part for research aimed at reducing mortality and morbidity from childhood heart disease, as well as to improve early detection and develop preventative measures. It’s super important work.

Beating childhood heart disease is a continuing challenge. The good news is that great strides have been made in researching the causes and improving treatment and care for those affected by it. Many more Heartkids are therefore surviving into adulthood, even if that means a little more care and support is needed to help them along the way.

Daniel Cummins in front of his racecar

Daniel Cummins in front of his race car

the essentials

What: HeartKids Hillclimb
When: Sunday 21 February from 9am-4pm
Where: Fairbairn Park Hillclimb Track, Sutton Road

Wendy Johnson

Wendy Johnson graduated with a Master’s Degree in Journalism from Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada, a few decades ago. She’s been living in Australia since 1995, having fallen in love with eucalypt trees and kangaroos. Wendy is passionate about Canberra and all the nation’s capital has to offer. She loves to write (about everything and anything) and owns her own pr and advertising business. More about the Author

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