KIAMA youngster Dexter Heffernan celebrated his fourth birthday last week, with one of his best birthday presents being a spell of continuing good health.
Dexter was born premature and suffered Periventricular Leukomalacia (PVL), a form of brain damage, and as a result now lives with cerebral palsy and impaired vision.
At 13 months Dexter was also diagnosed with cancer and underwent chemotherapy and surgery after lesions were discovered in his liver and lungs.
Last week his mum Lenice said her eldest son was doing the best he had in a long time.
‘‘We have not had an emergency hospital episode since August last year,’’ Mrs Heffernan said. ‘‘He is doing really, really well.’’
While Dexter’s health is stable, his conditions have left him with reduced mobility. He is on the waiting list for his first wheelchair, which Mrs Heffernan said would make a big difference.
‘‘Getting the wheelchair is going to mean he is age appropriate,’’ she said. ‘‘At the moment he’s still in his pram. he goes to the park and kids older than him say ‘look at the baby’.’’
The work to the family's Kiama Downs home includes a bathroom and kitchen renovation, having bigger light switches installed and having doors widened and replaced.
Mrs Heffernan said ultimately they would like to raise the lower part of the house and do away with the steps to make the entire home accessible to Dexter.
Last year realising the scope of work needed to make the home ‘‘Dexter-friendly’’ (including accommodating a wheelchair), Mrs Heffernan’s sister, Carol Laverty and supporter Melissa Tierney launched the Doing it for Dexter Facebook page.
By taking the page public, the pair aimed to find tradespeople and businesses who might be willing to help out with ‘‘mates rates and love’’.
They were inundated with offers of assistance.
Ms Laverty said the plans were drawn up by Katie Sadgrove.
‘‘Lorenzo Nizza (Smith and Sons Renovations and Extensions Shellharbour) and Rob Starcic (Coastal Windows and Doors) took up our idea, and got things in motion,’’ she said.
It’s hoped renovations will begin in July.
Ms Laverty thanked everyone for their support to date and said there were still a few things on their wish list: roof trusses, gutters, lighting, fittings, electrician and supplies, turf, fix out (internal doors, architraves, skirtings, cavity sliders (870mm doors), flooring, garage door, PC items: taps, toilets, oven, hotplate, air conditioning, insulation, blinds, awnings and fencing.
Mrs Heffernan said the support to date had been overwhelming.
‘‘The Kiama, and wider Illawarra community this time has really stepped up. We can’t thank everyone enough,’’ she said.
Visit kiamaindependent.com.au for a list of Dexter’s supporters.
If you can help, visit the Doing it for Dexter Facebook page
Dexter's supporters to date
Rob - Coastal Windows & Doors
Smith & Sons Renovations & Extensions Shellharbour
Ward & Dunn Glass
Gary Vian - Painter
A Portelli Bathroom Renovations
Bayside Security Doors & Blinds
Black Diamond Removals
Kieran Bates Plumbing
Coco Chai Day Spa
Steve Wilder Carpenter
Minnamurra Lions Club
Tom - Superior Floorsanding & Polishing
Shark Plant Hire
Dom's Quick Move & Clean
South Coast Termite Barriers
A+ Quality Fence
Dunmore Resources & Recycling Pty Ltd
Masters Home Improvement
Marino Stone Aus
WK Quantum Quartz(to be confirmed)
Mick & Troy Herbert Pty Ltd - Plasterer
TRS Protective Services security
Shep's Roofing Service
Gainsborough Take Away & Chicken
The Coffee Guy