Lauren Cahill: Westfield Local Heroes 2019
Shiny shoes spark conversations about compassion
Children´s Tumour Foundation
Empathetic. Generous. Trailblazer
Lauren Cahill had never heard of the genetic disorder neurofibromatosis (NF) until a brave girl with a tumour on her brain stem came into her shoe store.
Young Emme touched Lauren’s heart and, in a spontaneous act of kindness, she decided to design a girl’s shoe in her honour and name it after her.
All profits go to the Children´s Tumour Foundation of Australia.
Now, thanks to the charitable small business owner, girls all over Brisbane are wearing the hand-made rose mocha glitter shoes, not only raising much-needed funds but also raising awareness and compassion about NF, which can be both debilitating and disfiguring.
The shoes are also available on the internet and have been bought for girls all over the world, raising awareness about NF in other countries.
Being voted a Westfield Local Hero made Lauren cry with happiness. She is delighted by the community support, which she says is like “two gigantic arms wrapping themselves around Emme and her family”. Of course, Emme is also a local hero in her own right, she says.
When trying on the shoes, mothers often take the opportunity to have a conversation with their daughters about compassion.
“They talk about Emme, about her illness, and that their contribution is making a difference. That they are helping others, through the act of giving,” says Lauren.
She has also produced a video featuring Emme and her mother, which she not only uses to market the shoes but also to tell the girl’s brave story.
Westfield Local Heroes are nominated and voted for by their communities, with the three top finalists per Westfield centre each awarded a $10,000 grant for their affiliated organisation.
The Children´s Tumour Foundation of Australia will use its grant to cover the cost of employing an NF specialist nurse at the Queensland Children's Hospital to offer weekly support to up to twelve families.
Lauren says being voted a hero also raises awareness about Emme’s shoes.
“The more we sell; the more conversations parents are having with their girls about neurofibromatosis.”
For further information on the Westfield Local Heroes program, click here.