'Crazy idea' will change Kiama family's lives

Charlotte and Dexter Heffernan with their Aunty Carol Laverty. Picture: GEORGIA MATTS
Charlotte and Dexter Heffernan with their Aunty Carol Laverty. Picture: GEORGIA MATTS

What started as a ‘‘crazy idea’’ thrown out into cyberspace through social media could soon be transforming the lives of a Kiama Downs family.

In June, Andrew and Lenice Heffernan purchased the Kiama Downs house they had been living in as renters for a number of years. Now the couple need to renovate the building to make it more accessible for their eldest child, Dexter. 

Three year-old 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. 

‘‘Chantelle and Steve from The Block offered on Twitter to come down and lend some elbow grease.’’

At 13 months old Dexter was also diagnosed cancer and underwent chemotherapy and surgery after lesions were discovered in his liver and lungs. 

Dexter’s conditions have left the youngster with reduced mobility and he will eventually use a wheelchair to get around and his parents want to give him a home where he can do that. 

‘‘As he gets older we want him to be able to be a bit more independent and be able to get around the house,’’ Mrs Heffernan said.

‘‘It’s an older house so there does need to be a bit of work done.

The bathroom and kitchen need to be fully renovated, we need different light switches that are bigger that Dexter can use. A lot of the doors need to be widened and replaced with cavity doors and ultimately we’d like to raise up the lower part of the house, so that there’s no steps so he can access it.’’

Seeing the scope of work that needed to be done, Mrs Heffernan’s sister, Carol Laverty, decided she would try and help. 

Ms Laverty launched the Doing it for Dexter Facebook in the hope of finding local tradesmen and businesses who might be willing to help out and was quickly inundated with offers of assistance. 

‘‘We’d tried a few ways in the past to try and get some help but it hadn’t worked and Andrew and Lenice have spent a lot of money getting equipment and things for Dexter that they needed some help,’’ she said. 

‘‘It was just a bit of a crazy idea that I threw out on Facebook and people have jumped to be involved and we’ve already had a heap of local tradies pledge that they’ll help out and offer things like free labour which has been amazing.’’

It’s not just Kiama locals who have jumped aboard the cause, with the winners of series eight of Channel 9’s reality TV show The Block offering a helping hand. 

‘‘Chantelle and Steve from The Block offered on Twitter to come down and lend some elbow grease and have retweeted a few of our things,’’ Ms Laverty said. 

‘‘It might not happen but at least they didn’t ignore us and they might have helped us get Dexter’s cause out there.’’

For the Heffernans, the response from the community has blown them away. 

‘‘The Kiama community just continues to amaze us, it’s still just sinking in the amount of support that we’ve received,’’ Mrs Heffernan said. 

‘‘It’s just amazing, when somebody needs some help the community just steps up.’’

For more information visit lovedexter.weebly.com.



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