Former cricket great is bowled over by brave Azaria’s plight
DENIS Schuller is used to taking on the nation's batsmen, but it took someone as extraordinary as Azaria Wells to bowl him over.
The former Queensland Sheffield Shield cricketer met the seven-year-old on his taxi run to the Rockhampton special school.
Little did he know the meeting would lead to him spending his time raising money for her life changing surgery. Denis said driving her to school three days a week had enabled him to build a special bond with Azaria, who suffers from epilepsy, ADHD, autism and Tourette's.
Doctors discovered Azaria's epilepsy was caused by a ping-pong-ball-sized benign tumour in her right temporal lobe when she was l8 months old.
Her parents, Brad and Linda, have made the decision to take her to Lady Cliento Hospital to remove the tumour.
"At the moment she is having 1-2 seizures a day but usually it's up to five. We are still waiting on an exact date for the operation," Linda said.
"They are quite confident it will work but there is a small chance she could lose her memory. It's scary, I can't handle my little girl looking at me and wondering who I am," said Linda.
"We are waiting on the phone call from the surgeon, they expect the operation to go for 36 hours."
The Ronald McDonald Foundation will pay for just one parent to accompany Azaria for the procedure, and up until recently their only choice was for Linda to go alone without the company of her husband and five other children.
Denis was having none of that, and had started fundraising for the entire family to accompany Azaria to Brisbane.
"Azaria used to have seizures in the cab, that's when she (Linda) told me she had tumours," he said.
"I told them medically I can't help, but I can help financially."
Denis has been approaching businesses in the area to donate to the cause, and has so far raised more than $1000.
"The generosity has just been fantastic," he said.
"I went in and told them the story, explained the situation and asked if they wanted to donate money... not one of them took a backwards step."
Linda said their new goal was to have the opportunity to take Azaria to Seaworld before the procedure to give her one last memory in case there were complications.
There are charity tins in multiple businesses over the region, including Terry White Pharmacy Stockland, Peter Boodles, Oasis corner shop, Inspiration Paint and Norman Road Foodworks.