CELEBRITY chef Matt Golinski has revealed that the struggle to recover from burns and the loss of his wife and daughters has made him a more compassionate person who wants to help others.

In an emotional speech at the Sunshine Coast Sports Star Awards, Mr Golinski also told how the support of his family, friends and the wider community had helped him through.

"I'm just in awe of the amount of support I got. I couldn't believe it," he said.

"And it's given me much more of a focus in my life of wanting to help other people.

"I've got a great amount more of compassion now, so when I see people suffering I just want to help.

"It's been good in that way because that's now my focus."

Mr Golinski has revealed that the outpouring of support and love from the community kept him going when he wanted to "pack it all in" after losing his wife and daughters in a house fire that also left him badly burnt.

Rachael MacCracken with twins Willow and Sage and their younger sister Starlia.
Rachael MacCracken with twins Willow and Sage and their younger sister Starlia. John McCutcheon

Mr Golinski was given a standing ovation when he took the stage at Friday night's Sunshine Coast Sports Star Awards at Palmer Coolum Resort.

The popular Tewantin chef inspired and delighted an audience of 440 sports stars and fans as he revealed how an iron will and a commitment to a series of goals helped him rebuild his body and health, which were all but destroyed in the horrific 2011 Boxing Day fire.

"Obviously, everyone knows what I've been through, how far I've come. I've spent a couple of months in ICU in an induced coma and woke up," Mr Golinski told the packed auditorium.

"I was a runner before. I used to run five times a week and I loved it. It was my escape.

"I was in a coma for two months. I lost 22 kilos. I lost all my muscle. I couldn't walk any more. I couldn't speak.

"I basically had to start from the beginning and learn to walk again and it was a matter of being stood up in a bed and laying back down, and that was day one.

"And then it was standing up and lying back down again.

Thousands turned out to compete in the Sunshine Coast Marathon and Community Run Festival. Matt Golinski competes in the 10km run with friends and family. Photo: Patrick Woods/Sunshine Coast Daily.
Thousands turned out to compete in the Sunshine Coast Marathon and Community Run Festival. Matt Golinski competes in the 10km run with friends and family. Photo: Patrick Woods/Sunshine Coast Daily. Warren Lynam/

"It was something I had to put my mind to … and the other consideration was my heart rate was really high because of my metabolism being raised. I had to be very careful that I didn't drop dead of a heart attack."

Many audience members were moved to tears when Mr Golinski told how during the darkest days of his ordeal, when the loss of his wife and daughters was too much to bear, the outpouring of love and support from the community compelled him to keep going.

"When I woke up in hospital and realised how monumental what I was going through was and I was ready to sort of pack it all in, I thought what was the point of going on," he said.

"I had a huge amount of support from the community, from everybody out there and I realised the enormity of how many people were behind me,

"I just thought, 'Well I can't let anybody down. I've got to go through with this and get myself better as quickly as possible because I really want to get away from this hospital food'."

Beth Knight, Laura Huggins, Sarah Stanke and Chloe Cowen from the Nambour Thunder volleyball team.
Beth Knight, Laura Huggins, Sarah Stanke and Chloe Cowen from the Nambour Thunder volleyball team.

Master of ceremonies Benny Pike quipped that perhaps the hospital food had inspired Mr Golinski to become a sprinter so he could get out of there.

"Pretty much. So I think, more so than me wanting to get really big and strong again was I needed goals, and that was one of them," Mr Golinski said.

"They were saying to me, 'You're going to be in here for eight months', and I went, 'No way am I eating this food for eight months, I'm getting out in four' ... and I did.

"And so it was a matter of doing everything they told me to do - the physios, everybody, you know, the dietitians, everybody that told me to do something I did it, it put up with it ... but it was a matter of having goals."

And while key to Mr Golinski's amazing recovery was his determination to follow all medical advice to the letter, he refused to slow down when his heart rate monitor warned he was going too hard.

"By May (2012), I was doing a five-k run and I had to wear a heart rate monitor which I just ignored during the run. I just went 'Shut up!', 'I don't care!', '220 ... whatever!'.

"But now my heart rate has come back down.

"But it was really important for me exercise-wise and everything to have that as my goal to get myself fit enough to get back into real life."

Mr Pike asked him if the outpouring of support for the Bundaberg flood victims reminded him of the support he received during his recovery.

"I'm just in awe of the amount of support I got. I couldn't believe it," he said.

"And now it's given me much more of a focus in my life of wanting to help other people.

"I've got a great amount more of compassion now so when I see people suffering, I just want to help.

"It's been good in that way because that's now my focus."

Olympic gold medal-winning swimmers Melanie Schlanger and Brittany Elmslie.
Olympic gold medal-winning swimmers Melanie Schlanger and Brittany Elmslie.

On a lighter note, Mr Golinski revealed he missed his role of TV chef and would certainly welcome a call-back.

While Mr Golinski's life-long love of running had helped his recovery, he told the crowd that he was also enjoying a pastime that he had earlier abandoned when cooking became his calling.

"That's been something else that's come out of all this year for me as well," he said.

"And now, because I can't cook, I've taken up the guitar again. It's going pretty well."

Speaking of the room full of elite athletes who hung on his every word, Mr Golinski said, "I feel pretty honoured to be in the room with people like that, who have that sort of dedication.

"It's an inspiration to see other people and what they put themselves through to achieve."

Mr Pike then gently and rightfully suggested that no one in the room had achieved more than Mr Golinski.

"Please don't sell yourself short. You've given a lot of people inspiration tonight," Mr Pike said.

 

 

 



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