IN an incredible act of generosity, Sunshine Coast celebrity chef Matt Golinski will share $100,000 of the money given to him for his recovery to help other burns survivors.
Mr Golinski will gift some of the funds raised via the Matt Golinski Recovery Fund and Plates for Mates efforts to the Royal Women and Brisbane Hospital Foundation, the Fiona Wood Foundation and the Peter Hughes Burn Foundation.
"During my time in hospital and rehabilitation, I've met many other burns survivors,'' Mr Golinski, speaking publicly for the first time, said.
"I am acutely aware that most of them have not been blessed with the kind of support I've been lucky enough to receive.''
"There is so much work that needs to be done in the areas of burns prevention, treatment and research.
"Helping others, is just one way I hope to honour the memory of my wife, Rachael and our three girls, Willow, Sage and Starlia."
Mr Golinski, who is now living with his father Keith after losing the family home, said that while his physical recovery was on track, his emotional recovery was proving to be a little more challenging.
"I do have my dark days and would obviously do anything to change my life back to what it was before December last year.
"I appreciate the privacy that has been extended to me whilst I process my grief.
"It's hard to express my appreciation for the amount of well wishes, love and support that has been extended to me and my family.
"All I can think of to say to the Sunshine Coast is, thank you."
It's almost eight months since the fire.
The celebrity chef received third degree burns to over 40% of his body as a result of the blaze and spent months in the Royal Women and Brisbane Hospital's Burns Unit fighting for his life in a medically induced coma.
Mr Golinski said he wanted to thank the Sunshine Coast community in particular for its support during the long road to his recovery.
"I'm aware of many of the extraordinary acts of kindness on my behalf which have touched my heart and really helped give me the will to carry on.
"I was told about a little boy baking cupcakes over Easter and selling them to his neighbours to raise some money, and the school my daughters attended, Noosaville State School not only raised money but also put together an album of photos, which is just so precious to me.
"So many of the local restaurants and cafés, from the hinterland to the coast have contributed, as have numerous other schools and community groups.
"Although I am still processing all that has happened over these past few months, I am becoming more and more aware of the incredible level of emotional and financial support that friends, family and complete strangers have extended to me and my family, particularly within the hospitality industry.
"The loss of my wife and three daughters is still incomprehensible, but I am grateful to be alive. I am now trying to look to the future and live a life that would make them proud."
Now living with his father Keith after the family home was destroyed by the fire, the gutsy chef's daily routine involves many hours of rehabilitation.
It includes physiotherapy, occupational therapy, exercise physiology, psychology and hydrotherapy appointments.
Away from the walls of the doctor's offices, Matt is helping to rebuild his physical strength with short distance jogging and light weight training.
"Recovering from burns injuries is a slow process and can take several years. There are the external injuries of course, but also internal injuries caused by the effects of flame and smoke inhalation.
"Then there is the emotional side of things to deal with.
"As a result of the accident I have a condition called heterotopic ossiﬁcation (HO) which is the presence of bone in soft tissue where bone normally does not exist.
"This calcification causes my elbows to 'seize up', giving me limited mobility in my arms but I am hoping in 12 months or so that it may be possible to have an operation to remove the excess bone growth.
"I have some nerve damage in my fingers also but I'm working on improving that too.
"Thanks to the efforts of my rehab team I have a practical range of movement so am at least able to be independent and can now complete everyday tasks such as driving and home duties."
His partners in his Rolling Dolmade catering business have kept the business running successfully during his absence.
But the celebrity chef is not sure if, or when he will be able to return to work.
"I'm certainly keen to get back into the kitchen and return to a more 'normal' routine but I am trying not to look too far ahead and just take life one day at a time," he said.
Donations for the official Matt (Matthew) Golinski Recovery Fund Trust can be made over the counter at any ANZ Bank or by direct deposit to: Account name: Matthew Golinski Recovery Fund Trust. Bank: ANZ. BSB: 014 672 Account number: 263 331 805 or via the Plates for Mates website - www.platesformates.com.au.
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