An act of bravery from Ayden (left) helped save brother Ashah.
An act of bravery from Ayden (left) helped save brother Ashah. Elyse Wurm

Warwick's shining stars and selfless souls of 2017

FOR a small town, Warwick and its hearty residents sure know how to punch above their weight.

This year the people of the Rose City went above and beyond, excelling across various categories, as well as making the ultimate sacrifices.

The ultimate friend

In September, 39-year-old single mother Stacey Rodgers was diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma, a rare type of stomach cancer, and gave her only three to six months to live.

In the ultimate act of friendship, Suzette Benz offered to take in her friend's three teenage daughters.

"She's my best friend and if the tables were turned, she'd do the same thing,” Ms Benz said.

It was a story that touched the hearts of readers across town, as fate dealt Ms Rodgers a cruel blow. Doctors originally diagnosed ovarian cancer, but it wasn't until further tests were conducted that it was discovered the cancer in the ovaries was secondary and the true, devastating extent of the illness was revealed.

"I never really had much hope, I accepted it straight away,” Ms Rodgers said.

"I was really scared because I thought I've got a lot to do, it's not my turn.”

FRIEND IN NEED: Suzette Benz and Stacey Rodgers.
FRIEND IN NEED: Suzette Benz and Stacey Rodgers. Contributed

How to save a life

A brave Warwick boy risked his own life to save his brother, who was in serious danger of drowning during a family holiday at Tweed Heads.

Ten-year-old Ayden and his three-year-old brother Ashah were outside when the youngest decided to take an unexpected dip in the billabong. Ayden's brotherly instincts kicked into gear when he saw his brother's head dip below the surface of the water.

"I kicked my legs as hard as I could, I could hover but I couldn't touch the bottom,” Ayden said.

"I was drowning myself but I didn't care, I just wanted to save my little brother. I thought if I stop, me and Ashah will drown so I kept going.”

Mother Jenna Driscoll said the act was even more incredible given Ayden had ADHD and Asperger's, so she said it could take him a while to notice things going on around him.

"He gets in his own little world,” she said.

"It's overwhelming to think when it came to the crunch he did realise what was going on.”

Cassie Lamos with young Malakhai Riley.
Cassie Lamos with young Malakhai Riley. Sean Teuma

A mother's instinct

Hearts broke across the Rose City when the story of young Malakhai Riley was brought to light in August.

The one-year-old Warwick boy was finally diagnosed with Niemann-Pick type A, an extremely rare incurable disease. It means fat is not distributed throughout Malakhai's body to assist normal growth, but is localised to the liver and spleen, causing irreparable damage to these and other organs, as well the child's nervous system.

Despite being faced with adversity no mother should have to endure, Cassie Lamos kept it together as she continued to raise her three children.

"Now I just have to prepare for the worst. I have to be there for him, and hold onto every memory I can with him, cherish every moment.” she said.

"All the things you dream you'd do when your child is young, I have to try to squeeze as many of them as I can into the next months, and hopefully years.”

Jasmine Eldridge is off to NASA after winning a national Origin Energy competition.
Jasmine Eldridge is off to NASA after winning a national Origin Energy competition. Jonno Colfs

Next stop, the moon

Allora P-10 State School student Jasmine Eldridge was last month named as one of three Origin Energy littleBIGidea winners for her Dog of Technology, giving her a chance to visit NASA.

The 13-year-old created the dog to help fellow sufferers of autism, and includes ways to help calm children down when undergoing duress.

The achievement prompted acknowledgement from Member for Maranoa David Littleproud in parliament, who gave the young mind a glowing commendation.

"The world is Jasmine's oyster, and there is nothing that will hold her back,” he said.

"She understands the fact she looks at the world differently, and that is a positive thing. This will give her the opportunity to shine, and it is very exciting.”

2017 Heritage Bank Warwick Business Excellence Awards winner The Physiotherapy Centre.
2017 Heritage Bank Warwick Business Excellence Awards winner The Physiotherapy Centre. Deanna Millard

Booming business

Local businesses continued to show they can match it with the city slickers, picking up awards on the big stage throughout this year.

The Heritage Bank Business Excellence Awards were again a hit, with The Physiotherapy Centre taking home the title of best business of the year. Warwick Wedding and Events was named as a finalist in photography, and came fourth in wedding styling and artifical design at the Queensland ABIA Awards.

Killarney View Cabins and Caravan Park picked up a bronze award at the Queensland Tourism Awards, their second successive gong.



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