MERCURY SERIES - Making A Difference
It is not very often that a carer of a child with a disability gets time to think of themselves.
But Music Makers director Melissa Tierney made sure that happened for one very special Kiama Downs mum last Friday.
Mrs Tierney arranged a day of pampering for Lenice Heffernan, who was so grateful she struggled to find words to express her thanks.
Mrs Heffernan's son Dexter has cerebral palsy and recently fought liver cancer.
Knowing how Mrs Heffernan had so little time to even think about doing anything for herself, Mrs Tierney arranged for family and friends and some special businesses to help create a day of surprises.
"When Melissa got to my house she gave me an envelope that said what I was going to do first," Mrs Heffernan said.
Another envelope with a new instruction came each time she was sent to a different location.
The day started at Jindalee Spa at 11am.
"They gave me a facial, eyelash tint, manicure and a pedicure," she said.
After lunch she was handed another envelope to get her hair and make-up done at Tusta Hair before she went home, got changed and waited for the next instalment.
Mrs Heffernan and Andrew Heffernan were then picked up by Crazy Classic Cars and taken to Chachi's Restaurant for dinner, then chauffeured home.
"Harry Mitchell picked us up in a 1959 Cadillac and we were his first people to sit in the back of that car," she said.
"That was very, very cool!"
All the businesses donated their time and services after Mrs Tierney asked them if they would help provide a special day for a special person.
And it was clear they had succeeded when the Illawarra Mercury caught up with Mrs Heffernan while she was enjoying coffee and dessert.
"It has been a very special day. It has just been amazing," she said.
"All I knew beforehand was that I had to be ready by 10.30 and that someone was going to come and look after my kids."
Mrs Heffernan said it had been a long time since she had even thought about doing anything for herself.
"It has just been fantastic," she said.
"I have had a smile on my face all day."
Mrs Heffernan said a lot of people had done things for Dexter but this was a first.
She said it was very unusual not having to worry about what was happening to Dexter and her eight-month-old daughter Charlotte, who were being well looked after by a good friend and her sister, Carol Laverty.
"It was so unusual because this day was all about me," Mrs Heffernan said.
"The last time I did anything like this would have been before we got married.
"Melissa is an amazing person for organising this all.
"I just want to say thank you a thousand times.
"There is nothing I can say because thank you just doesn't seem enough.
"It has really been something. I have had a day where I haven't had to change nappies or worry about anything.
"For all the businesses to donate so generously is just fantastic."
The surprise came just one week before this Saturday's fund-raising concert at Wollongong Town Hall for Dexter.
The Inspiration for Peace concert has been organised by the Music Makers, a Disability Trust program, and another community group called the Peace Angels.
All proceeds go to helping Dexter, who also has brain damage and vision impairment, attend an innovative new therapy program from the United States that will soon be available in Melbourne.
The family hopes the intensive sessions offered by the US program will eventually help Dexter sit on his own and perhaps even help him walk on his own, with the help of a walking aid.
Tickets for the concert can be purchased on 4227 5088 or wollongongtownhall.com.