How Green Beanz was born

  • by MICK KOULIANOS

With 'McHappy day' around the corner, I wanted to share the story of how Green Beanz was born, and why children's charities hold a special place in our heart!

Most people don't know this about us, and unfortunately ours is certainly not a unique story. Our 7 year old son Leo was born with an extremely rare and serious lung disease. All seemed normal through Misty's pregnancy and Leo's birth, but within 2 weeks we knew something was wrong. Leo's respiratory rate was much too high, and he was lethargic and underweight.
It took a few weeks to get the diagnosis and when it came it was very bleak. Leo spent 142 days in hospital, 40 of them in ICU, and our family was devastated. It was an absolute nightmare, and although little Leo was usually in a good mood, I would not wish that on anyone. 
Even when he was finally discharged the future was unknown, as his condition affected only about 1 in 5 million children. He was on 24 hours a day oxygen, was tube fed until he was almost 4, and was on steroids, as well as 5 other medications. It was a very hard time for the whole family. We were physically, mentally, and financially drained.
As Leo slowly grew healthier and stronger we started to wean him off the oxygen and gave him more time off the CPAP. I went back to work, but Misty was a full time stay at home mum, as Leo required around the clock care.
Misty had always loved plants, and started selling some on Ebay to help makes ends meet. Since Ebay takes quite a big commission, we started our own website, and Green Beanz was officially born in March, 2018.
Cheeky Leo continued to thrive, as did Green Beanz. Before too long I had to quit my regular job and jump in full time to help Misty manage. It really was a blessing to be able to work from home and provide the care Leo needed to continue to meet and beat every challenge that was put before him. He literally was a poster child for kids with serious illness.
'Variety- the children's charity' approached us, and we were more than willing to allow Leo to be part of a campaign to help raise awareness and much needed funds. Variety had purchased a pulse oxymeter and cpap for us- very expensive pieces of medical equipment that were neccassary for Leo to come home- and we could not have done it without their help.
Ronald McDonald house charities let us stay in their holiday house in Forster, NSW for a week. An amazing retreat for families of seriously ill children. After years of monthly hospital stays, it was amazing to get away and feel 'normal' for a while. As well as their retreats, RMHC also provide family rooms in hospitals, houses for families that have to travel far from home for treatment, and learning programs.
RMHC also hold an annual gala ball, and Misty was asked to speak in 2016 about the important work that children's charities do, and the impact it can have on families lives. Lisa Wilkenson was lucky enough to meet Misty there ; )
'Starlight children's charity' is another foundation that does amazing work. The Starlight express room is a place not only sick kids to visit, but their siblings can also get away and just be kids. Toys, arts and crafts, video games, movies, trivia etc. Even parents could grab a snack and some tea or coffee and just get away from the ward for a while. The volunteers are amazing and Starlight was a real life saver for us. We donate a portion of each sale and really wish we could do more.
Leo's latest (and hopefully last ever) hospital stay was a year ago, when his tummy 'peg' was finally removed. Even a doctor examining him now would never know what he has, or what he went through. Thankfully he was young when he went through the worst of it, and he really doesn't remember much.

We'd also like to recognise the amazing work of Enable NSW, and the Steve Waugh foundation. I'm sure there are countless organizations out there but the ones I've mentioned in this email have all personally helped our family and hold a special place in our hearts.

Times are tough right now, but if you can afford to donate even the smallest amount to one of these charities please consider doing so (or buy a Big Mac next Saturday) as literally every dollar makes a difference. If you took the time to read all this and make it this far special thanks to you! Lot of love from Mick, Misty, Anthony, and Leonidas Koulianos xxx

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