Trace Richey Nursing Scholarship
It is with much love we offer the 'Trace Richey Nursing Scholarship' as a way of showing our eternal gratitude to the Nurses working in the field of Bone Marrow Transplants who tirelessly and lovingly cared for Trace after his own transplant in February of 2015. It is very important we honour Trace's memory and introduce him to future nurses, putting smiles on new faces, ensuring he is never forgotten.
Trace was the most adorable, charismatic and charming guy whose smile could light up a room and whose laugh that was nothing less than contagious. He was a fun-loving and cheeky man who liked the finer things in life especially when laughing over a glass (or two) of wine or an espresso martini with friends, and sharing his wonderfully wicked sense of humour. He had a heart of pure gold and a tremendous passion for helping others. In his professional life he was a passionate fundraiser, working for a variety of charities, and in his private life he was just as passionate about spending time with his loved ones, his friends and his amazing family.
In Australia he wanted to be known as Trace, but in America he was always known as Tracy. Born Tracy Lee Richey in Yukon, Oklahoma, USA to two of the most loving parents anyone could wish for, Beverly and Carl. He was the youngest (and favourite) of four children, the youngest (and best looking) brother to Mike and Mark, and the youngest (and most precious) brother to his sister, Brenda, whose friendship he cherished more than anyone else in the world.
After graduating from Oklahoma University with a degree in Public Relations & Speech Communications he moved to California to pursue a career in the not-for-profit industry, working for the Santa Barbara Rehabilitation Institute, followed by the San Diego Hospice before earning the title of executive director for the Susan G Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.
His love of Australia started when he was sent to Adelaide on a work conference, stopping in Sydney on his return. He instantly fell in love with the country and its people, even if they did laugh at his name. He loved Australia so much that he flew from America to Sydney with his sister and a big bunch of friends to celebrate his 40th birthday where he would first meet a little English guy who would become the love of his life.
In 2007 Trace followed his heart and moved to Sydney where his career continued to grow, initially working for Blackbaud, a software company serving the not-for-profit industry, then taking the position of Legacy and Tributes Manager for The Children's Hospital Westmead, and finally working with the wonderful team of people at Mission Australia as the National Bequest Manager until his diagnosis with MDS.
Trace checked in to St. Vincent's hospital in preparation for a Bone Marrow Transplant in February 2015. From the day he arrived at St. Vincent's the cheekiness and laughter started promoting many smiles. Trace had already spent the previous year going to the Kinghorn Cancer Centre for his chemo treatments and was already known by some of the staff, but it wasn't long before he was known and loved by all, but especially by the nurses as they spent many hours, days and weeks with him. There were constant jokes about the hospital food, constant laughs with both doctors and nurses alike, and even as the temperatures spiked and the GVHD started, nothing was going to stop him replying to the nurses every time they asked for his name and date of birth "Brad Pitt, March 3rd, 1965". Every time he was asked if they could get him anything his reply was always "Half a million dollars please".
Trace turned 40 in the penthouse of the Sheraton on the Park and celebrated with dancing and champagne, but he turned 50 in St. Vincent's Hospital where his favourite presents were the wonderful nurses, two paracetamol, a bag of plasma. Still his sense of humour was amazing. The following week Trace found out the Nurses and cleaning staff were raising funds for The Leukaemia Foundations "World's Greatest Shave" and was told an 'anonymous' nurse would only participate if the team had reached their fundraising goal. Even though he had starting battling GVHD and had spiked a high temperature and had only the day before had his own head shaved, he was so touched the nursing team would do this he pledged to help them reach their goal and within hours of putting the word out the team had reached double their target.
The following day, Friday 13th of March Trace's fever miraculously disappeared, his energy levels rose and he made his last public appearance full of smiles and laughs, shaving Neil's head in front of a very excited and grateful audience of nurses and friends, including his sister Brenda via his laptop, skyping from Oklahoma.
Brenda arrived the following week and it was such a comfort to him she remained by his side.
Through the insertion of feeding tubes, excruciating dressing changes and many other procedures, the nurses showed SO much care and compassion - but it didn't matter how painful the procedure Trace would always apologise for his language and then thank the nurses individually for their care. He showed so much strength and resilience, so much courage and determination, and impressed everyone around him every single day, but tragically succumbed to acute GVHD after a heroic 40 day battle.
His sister wrote the loveliest words:
"I am grateful that I was able to be witness to the St Vincent's Hospital staff reaction to a life and a soul that all of us know to be 'One of a Kind'. They say that a person's characteristics are magnified when challenged, and I can attest to Tracy's humour, wit, determination, and lack of self-pity that shined during these last few weeks of his life. Nurses and Doctors are supposed to remain detached and not get personally attached to the patients that they treat. One by one, they all came to the room, and laid their hands on Tracy and looked at me and Neil with such pain and sorrow over the fact that they "should have done more". We assured them that they did all they could, and reminded them of Tracy's genuine gratitude to each and every single one of them as they tended to him. Tracy never gave up but left this life after the most courageous battle, fighting right up to the very end, but leaving peacefully with me his sister, his best friend since the age of 4, Jon Cooper, and the Love of His Life Neil, by his side."
The nurses made such a HUGE difference to Trace's stay in the hospital; they made a HUGE difference to his last few years and to his last few months. It takes a really special person to work in the field of Haematology Oncology so this is our thanks to them, those wonderful nurses who want to dedicate their lives to helping patients like Trace.
To donate, visit: https://tracericheynursingscholarship.everydayhero.com/au/neil-pennockDonate