From the beginning of time people have needed people. Despite this, we are so often driven by fear, ego and competition. Sometimes it is noticing the simple yet beautiful things in life, that free us from our limitations, and enable us to activate tender loving care for other human beings. As the founder of TLC for Kids, Tim Conolon is a master of empathy, a curator of care, and a walking example of the change we all wish to see in the world.
It was ‘just one breathe’ that moulded Tim’s future. 17-year-old Francis Stockbridge was suffering from lung cancer and was unable to breathe on his own. Tim met Francis after speaking at a YMCA Camp Leader Exchange Program. Tim and Francis struck up a friendship, and a few days later Francis contacted Tim letting him know that he had one month left to live and that his only wish was to take a single breath.
Through meditation techniques, Tim was able to help Francis take the deep breath he longed for, and the gift of that breathe was purpose. In that moment, Tim knew that any sick child had the right to support, and the opportunity to smile. A legacy was born.
As a result of this experience, Tim, and his brother were inspired to set up an organization called Team Life. The aim was to grant the wishes of terminally ill children. The on purpose pair carried out street stunts, concerts, and even sold charity chocolates. The only issue was that Team Life was not a charity, and Tim soon came to realise that to raise the funds they required he would need to start again. It was through this roadblock that Team Life became the forerunner to TLC For Kids.
On the 15th of June 1998 TLC For Kids was born and in December registered as an official charity. TLC for Kids is dedicated to giving practical and emotional support to sick kids, and their families across Australia. TLC for Kids has a mission to bridge the gap of existing services, working behind the scenes to assist families dealing with crises and the emotional impact that comes with terminal illness.
Over the years since TLC certainly faced challenges keeping the doors open. There was a time where Tim and his partner Ana had only $93.00 to live on. A twist of fate saved the day when in 1999 an on-air appeal coordinated by 3AW raised an incredible $150,000 to keep the TLC For Kids doors open. With these much-needed funds, Tim and Ana launched an exciting and innovative project by the name of distraction boxes which provided educational play therapy for kids in hospital. A decade later, there are 1970 Distraction Boxes being used nation-wide…which equates to a whopping 917,280 uses per year and a million smiles.
It is no surprise that is 2014 Tim was awarded the Australian of the Year Local Hero Award, and the Ernst & Young Social Entrepreneur Award for the Southern Region. These platforms have been invaluable in helping Tim do what he loves most – helping sick kids and their families.
As an accomplished speaker, Tim graced the TEDx stage in 2014, sharing insights into what it is to ‘find you cause to smile’. Onstage, Tim has an engaging and genuine delivery, underpinned by an infectious passion, that leaves audience members inspired. After seeing Tim speak, it is hard not to want to make a difference in the world.