Gift from Inglis brings Gladstone mum and daughter to tears

WHEN Jen Russell saw her 13-year-old daughter break down in tears in front of her, she couldn't help but start crying too.

But they weren't tears of sadness, in fact it was the opposite as her daughter Olivia, 13 had just been given the best gift "in the world".

Olivia, who suffers from multiple intellectual impairments, couldn't believe her eyes as she sat staring at signed photographs, a handwritten letter and a picture of her idol, Greg Inglis.
 

DREAM COME TRUE: 13-year-old Olivia Russell thought her surprise was going to be Macdonalds. But it turns out it was something much more valuable than that. Photo: Jen Russell
DREAM COME TRUE: 13-year-old Olivia Russell thought her surprise was going to be Macdonalds. But it turns out it was something much more valuable than that. Photo: Jen Russell

Her mum hadn't told her about the Queensland Maroons Fan Day in Gladstone on Tuesday "because I didn't tell her".

"She goes to school in Miriam Vale and I work at the service station there, there was no way we would have been able to get there."

But when Jen found out her daughter's hero, Greg, was going to be in their home town, she made some sneaky arrangements with friends.

"I hit a few up to see if they could get some pictures and something signed for Olivia," she said.
 

DREAM COME TRUE: 13-year-old Olivia Russell thought her surprise was going to be Macdonalds. But it turns out it was something much more valuable than that. Photo: Jen Russell
DREAM COME TRUE: 13-year-old Olivia Russell thought her surprise was going to be Macdonalds. But it turns out it was something much more valuable than that. Photo: Jen Russell

"Olivia is a huge Rabbitohs and Greg Inglis fan, she doesn't even care about the Queensland Maroon team, just Greg.

"Her whole room is decorated in Rabbitohs gear."

Mum Jen waited until they were sitting in the car after school.

"I told her I had a surprise for her, and then I handed her the pictures," Jen said.
 

 

"At first she just went silent and gave the photos back to me, but a little later she asked to see the photos again.

"And she was just so overwhelmed, she lost it and started crying… And then I started crying.

"Then she said, 'see I told you mummy, Greg is my friend, he's even better than daddy!'"
 

DREAM COME TRUE: 13-year-old Olivia Russell thought her surprise was going to be Macdonalds. But it turns out it was something much more valuable than that. Photo: Jen Russell
DREAM COME TRUE: 13-year-old Olivia Russell thought her surprise was going to be Macdonalds. But it turns out it was something much more valuable than that. Photo: Jen Russell

 

As the Maroons team was leaving Gladstone, one of Jen's friends approached Greg at the airport and showed him the photo of Olivia, and asked if Greg could be in a photo holding it.

"I was told Greg looked at it and said, 'This must be Liv', because he already had two different people come up and ask him to sign things or get pictures for her," Jen said.

"I just think it's so special he took the time to listen and remember who Olivia was."

Olivia is still over the moon with her gifts. Jen has emailed the Rabbitohs team to make sure a message was sent to Greg, thanking him for his kindness.

"I didn't ask for a meet and greet or anything, even though that would be Olivia's dream come true, but I just wanted to let him know it was really appreciated," she said.

"For anyone who has a child with special needs, they can understand how something so small can make someone's day … And in Olivia's case, a whole year."



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