Rhianna's Story

Rhianna McCallum is an 18-year-old from Boulder, Western Australia, approximately 600kms from Perth. Throughout her formative years, Rhianna has coped with a number of chronic conditions which included Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and Chronic Widespread Pain Syndrome. 

When asked to describe her condition, Rhianna says: 

"Imagine you have the flu. Now imagine that you  haven't slept a wink in three days. Your body aches, and you sweat and then you freeze in the space of 30 seconds. These are just some of the symptoms I experience daily." 

A family friend describes Rhianna as a "dedicated student who gives 100% every day. She dreams of being able to make a difference in the world, to help other people and liver her life to the fullest." 

Rhianna McCallum


Rhianna's first stay at Ronald McDonald House Charities Western Australia was in June 2017. She enrolled in the Learning Program the same month, so she did not miss out on any school. Over the course of Rhianna's two years on the Learning Program, she moved from failing subjects, onto higher grades like A's and B's.

In 2019, Rhianna applied for the Charlie Bell Scholarship. 

The Charlie Bell Scholarship is awarded annually to a young adult who has made significant accomplishments in their education throughout the challenges of chronic illness. 

Upon hearing that she was going to be awarded for the Scholarship in 2019, Rhianna says:

"I was really excited because being sick, we don't have a lot of money because we spent it all on appointments and making it to Perth. I rang my mum first and she was so happy."

Rhianna and RMHC WA Director of Hugs & Pats, Gus


As a parent, Allison says she was thrilled when Rhianna won the award. 

"I felt honoured for her. All her hard work had paid off. It's proved her resilient and capability of being able to push on. Despite having a chronis illness, you are still capable of achievement!" 

As for the House in Nedlands, Allison says: 

"The House is a home. You walk through the doors and everyone is there to support you."