Rising Above

By Jordan Bailey

Tracey’s story is a tale of resilience and compassion. Her life stands as a beacon for anyone facing difficult circumstances, using her personal pain to fuel her passion for community good. From navigating the critical aftermath of a near-fatal accident that befell her young son to facing her own life-threatening health challenges amidst the solitude imposed by a global pandemic, Tracey has emerged as not just a survivor, but as a champion for the vulnerable, becoming a pillar of her community who transforms her experiences into initiatives that uplift and support those who dearly need it. Her story is not just about surviving, but thriving against the odds and inspiring everyone who meets her.

Tracey’s was irrevocably altered when her twenty-two-month-old son was severely injured in a petrol explosion, leaving seventy percent of his body covered in third degree burns. The accident marked the beginning of a gruelling medical battle that included over fifty operations in the first four months, extending into over a decade of hospital visits. Amidst this already overwhelming crisis, Tracey was also facing the tragedy of her mother’s battle with breast cancer, which would ultimately take her life. The dire situation had Tracey travelling back and forth between the two hospitals to be with her injured son and ailing mother until her mother’s passing. Compounding her trials, her younger brother would take his own life shortly after their mother’s death, adding another layer of grief onto an already overladen time. Throughout these trials, Tracey remained steadfast, her philosophy one of resilience: “Stand up and face adversity, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, I’m a big believer in that”, a belief that has steered her though her life’s darkest moments and empowered her to keep moving forward.

More recently, Tracey faced a significant health crisis herself, undergoing a major surgery that coincided with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. During this challenging time she was hospitalised and isolated, enduring the stark terror of a code blue, an medical emergency in the form of cardiac arrest, while the hospital was almost shut down, requiring a full team of nurses and doctors throughout the night. She was denied even the comforting presence of her husband, who was barred from entry due to the strict hospital conditions enforced during the pandemic. Tracey recalls being terrified at his absence, and anxious that any goodbye they might say to each other would be through the phone. Despite these frightening circumstances, Tracey’s optimism remains unshaken, persevering through the fear and uncertainty of the situation, allowing her to continue facing life with unwavering determination.

Beyond her personal battles, Tracey has channelled her experiences into a force for communal good. As a function coordinator, she has raised nearly five hundred thousand dollars for charity, directing her efforts towards supporting children with disabilities and communities in need. Her commitment and impact has not gone unnoticed, earning her the title of Citizen of the Year in 2014 as well being nominated for it four other times, a nomination for International Woman of the Year, a Community Recognition Award from the parliament of New South Wales in 2023, among numerous other accolades over the past two decades.

One of Tracey’s most notable philanthropic achievements was her organisation of a Melbourne Cup event, her twentieth annual and final such function, which aimed to fund an all-inclusive roundabout in Lennox Head for people with disabilities. The event is particularly memorable for Tracey due to the participation of Rick Price, Australian singer-songwriter of ‘Heaven Knows’ and ‘Not A Day Goes By’ and INXS manager Chris Murphy, who sadly passed away from cancer shortly after the event.

Tracey also played a pivotal role in raising over seventeen thousand dollars to save the Lennox Bowling Club from closure through a successful black-tie event. This was one of the few events that she organised for a cause other than children with disabilities or communities in need, preserving a cherished local hub and underscoring her commitment to supporting local institutions that bring people together. Additionally, her efforts facilitated the purchase of two wheelchair-accessible school buses, further enhancing the mobility and opportunities for children with disabilities. Through her tireless dedication, Tracey has improved the lives of countless individuals, leaving a lasting legacy of compassion and action.

Her life outside of these efforts is filled with simpler joys and nostalgia. Tracey reminisces about childhood hobbies like crochet and playing hopscotch- activities she feels are vanishing in today’s world. She fondly recalls the days when milkshakes were served in metal containers and fish and chips were wrapped in newspaper, small pleasures that call back to summertime days. Professionally, Tracey has dedicated herself to supporting others as a disability support worker, a role she finds profoundly fulfilling and considers akin to a hobby. Her creative outlet shines though in music; she is a songwriter and singer with a Spotify album titles ‘Flying High’, featuring country songs penned for artists performing in Tamworth, where she has won three awards. She says that she intends to branch out into other genres that she enjoys, especially rock.

Tracey’s life, punctuated by personal losses and communal victories, exemplifies the power of the human spirit and the profound impact one can have by persevering through the darkest of times. Through her tireless efforts, she has reached out and been a driving force for good in her community and an inspiration for all around her. Tracey’s story is not just a tale of survival, but a reminder to everyone that even in the depths of personal and global crises, every person has the power to rise above and make a difference.