Book Review: ‘Heartstrong: Chumpy, Minnie & Me’ by Ellidy Pullin w/ Alley Pascoe

Chumpy, Ellidy and Minnie’s story is one for the ages. Their perspective on love, life and strength is unbelievable. In particular I strongly admire Ellidy’s ability to keep living through her grief and bring Minnie into a world swirled by strong belief that she is loved, she is a miracle creation and first and foremost, that she is the daughter of Alex ‘Chumpy’ Pullin.

Let’s start by chatting about the big and colourful being that was Chumpy.

Alex ‘Chumpy’ Pullin was an Australian snowboarder who competed at the 2010, 2014 and 2018 Winter Olympics. He held the honour of carrying the Australian Flag in the opening of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. He won the snowboard cross World Championship – twice. He was an athlete. He was the musical creator and singer behind Chumpy and the Sunsetaroonies. He was a bright soul and he was Ellidy’s person for this wonderful thing called life.

On the 8th of July 2020, the life that Ellidy knew took a devastating turn. Chumpy tragically passed away in a shallow water diving blackout at the age of 33. This unfathomable accident shook those who knew Chumpy personally, had followed his athletic life and achievements, those who competed with him, those in his home town, celebrities across the globe and just ordinary people like myself who heard this on the news one morning. A fit, healthy and active man who was incredibly experienced in the water, passing away. Surely this doesn’t happen right?

A little about Ellidy – she and Chumpy met at the age of 21 and fell immediately in love. She had studied nursing, commerce and worked in a variety of jobs. Chumpy used to describe her as someone who was ‘always happy’ and ‘woke up happy’. For Ellidy to still find that light within herself and for Minnie, even now after the tragedy she’s experience, I’m just in awe and admiration. A really large part of what Ellidy’s purpose, advocacy and awareness is around shallow water diving blackouts. She also aims to shine a light on post mortem sperm retrieval, as this is how little Minnie was created.

Ellidy and Chumpy always knew they’d start a family and they’d been trying for the past 12 months before Chumpy’s accident. Luck was never on their side. They felt as if they came close a few times, but sadly never fell pregnant. IVF appointments were discussed, plans were made and then suddenly, Chumpy wasn’t there. In the hours after Chumpy’s passing, a close friend that actually brought Ellidy and Chumpy together in the first place, relayed to Ellidy’s brother this amazing procedure called post mortem sperm retrieval. Ellidy only had to hear the words, “There is still a chance you and Chumpy can have a baby” and that was enough for her to say “Yes, go, do what you need to do”, for close friends and family to jump to action. There are a number of loop holes in making a procedure like this happen, including time sensitivity after a persons passing, legal requirements and state legislations. The stars aligned and Ellidy likes to believe that Chumpy was along the journey pushing for those green lights from above.

Even through her grief, Ellidy knew that having Chumpy’s baby was something she had to do. She had her parent’s support, her brother, Chumpy’s parents and sister, as well as her multitude of close friends encouraging her to make this happen when she was ready. 15 months after Chumpy’s passing, que the creation of Minnie Alex Pullin. And let me tell you folks, she’s bloody gorgeous!

I’m so glad this heartbreakingly beautiful story was one of my first reads this year. I love watching my daily Instagram stories of Minnie, as found on Ellidy’s profile, and watching her grow surrounded by love. I encourage you to read this book, educate yourself on the power of true love and absorb the wonderful miracles that are created through modern medicine. Below, you’ll find one of the most heartwarming videos of Minnie and her dad 💫💖

WWW Wednesdays

WWW Wednesday is hosted by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words 📚 It is a book tag to broaden the reading community and help connect avid readers!

All you have to do is answer the following three questions:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

CR: ‘Arthur and Teddy are Coming Out’ by Ryan Love is such a touching read. I am really only just at the beginning of this story where Arthur is preparing a dinner with his children to explain his sexuality. He and his wife have just celebrated a significant milestone in their marriage and she is supporting him with this decision to openly be himself now. Arthur’s grandson, Teddy, is about to come into the picture and I gather the idea that he is struggling with career decisions and also accepting himself. I look forward to seeing where this lightly written and fun story goes. Released in March 2023. (I am also semi reading this as research for my own writing as I feel the writing style is quite similar to my own)

RF: ‘The Whispering’ by Veronica Lando was the perfect mixture of ‘The Bluffs’ by Kyle Perry & ‘The Dry’ by Jane Harper – of which I absolutely loved each for their rollercoaster rhythm, past and present perspectives and whimsical/cultural/mysterious nature calling elements. This story follows a recent accident in the local rainforest where a fit, healthy and well-liked community man was found dead in mysterious circumstances. Callum Haffenden, a journalist and previous local, returns to town as his connections lure him back. This is a place that caused him pain, heartbreak and the loss of his leg. Accidents from past and present collide for a very interesting Aussie crime fiction novel. Full review coming soon!

RN: ‘Heartstrong’ by Ellidy Pullin has been on my radar since its release. This woman’s story is empowering, heart-tearing and unlike anybody’s I’ve heard before, which makes it all the more entrancing. Ellidy lost her significant partner in a tragic accident, his name was Alex “Chumpy” Pullin. He was an Olympic Snowboard Cross Medalist, a singer, a father to their dog Rummy and Ellidy’s person. Then one day he didn’t come home and their plans of starting a family and a life together seemed to stop in its tracks. Until Ellidy’s quick thinking family stepped in hours after Chumpy’s passing with a method of allowing Ellidy and Chumpy to still have a baby. I’ve leave you hooked with this as I really believe you should pick up this Aussie biography to learn more about Ellidy, Minnie & Chumpy too. For more of a snippet, check out Ellidy’s instagram, I love Minnie updates on the regular!