A hand-heart sign formed by Nicole Fitzsimons in a carefree photo in her Lake Illawarra backyard has become a symbol of safety for others.
The 24-year-old had just scored her dream gig working on Channel 9’s Footy Show before her life was tragically taken in a motorbike accident while holidaying in Thailand in October 2012.
Despite their heartache, her family have created the Nicole Fitzsimons Foundation to create a lasting legacy for her, and to help save the lives of other travellers.
Her sister Kate has taken the travel safety message to more than 30,000 students across Australia. On Wednesday, she shared her sister’s story with Year 11 students at Corpus Christi Catholic High School in Oak Flats.
‘’We all tend to think we're a bit invincible when we're young, I want to remind young people that life is fragile - wherever you are,’’ Ms Fitzsimons said.
‘’It’s even more important to be aware of your safety when travelling as many countries do not have the same safety standards as Australia. That can cause people to relax and push the boundaries more than they would at home.
‘’Nicole would never have hopped onto a motorbike in Australia without a helmet on, so why did she take that risk in another country?’’
Ms Fitzsimons urged students to check the culture, rules and regulations of countries they were travelling to, and provided each of them with a travel safety guide.
Many students shed tears during the presentation, which included a video of snapshots of Nicole’s life.
Year 11 student Adam Kadmon said he’d been inspired by the talk. ‘’I was touched by the story and found it inspiring that from such a tragedy, this family thought to reach out to others in this way,’’ he said.
‘’It makes you remember to be more cautious about travel, to not be reckless and to value your life more.’’
Ms Fitzsimons, soon to turn 24, will never forget the call from her mother to inform her of her sister’s death – or writing her eulogy.
‘’It’ one of the hardest things I’ve had to do, but also one of the most empowering as it forced me to look at what it is that makes a legacy,’’ she said.
‘’Remembering the way Nicole lived her life on her own terms, the way she embraced opportunities, and how she stayed true to her values and passions – she was truly inspiring.’’