Brave Kiama Downs youngster Dexter Heffernan were among thousands of excited fans at Saturday’s Nitro Circus show at WIN Stadium.
Dexter and his family were selected for the Mercury and KidzWish ‘Ultimate Nitro Circus Experience’ for Saturday’s show.
This included VIP tickets to the show, as well as a meet-and-greet and backstage tour with the stars of the Nitro Circus.
“We were met at the gate and taken on to the track where we were able to check out the bikes and the toys that go down the big ramp. We were able to meet almost all of the stars of the show and they were all very happy to get photos with Dexter,” mother Lenice said of the news.
"A couple of highlights were going on the landing ramp. Dexter's sister Charlotte was able to climb to the top and then slide back down, she even sneakily ran back up on her own! Then, meeting Wheelz, who does stunts in his wheelchair. The kids were given a shirt and cap each," said Lenice.
"Our seats were allocated in the front on section. The kids loved that they could see it all and Charlotte was particularly excited when the toys she had played on (little go cart and sheep especially) were taken down the ramp by the performers. We all had a very fun time."
Dexter, who turns seven in May, was born prematurely and suffered periventricular leukomalacia, a form of brain damage, and as a result has cerebral palsy and impaired vision.
At 13 months he was also diagnosed with cancer and underwent chemotherapy and surgery after lesions were discovered in his liver and lungs.
Dexter marked five years cancer-free last December, and his mother said he was doing “really well” health-wise.
“We had a bit of a rough end to 2017… He was diagnosed with epilepsy on New Year’s Eve 2017. We’d actually gone a full year without any unplanned hospital visits. But apart from that he hasn’t had any more seizures since then, and he’s doing really well,” she said.
Wheelchair-bound Dexter is a year 1 student with two teacher’s aides at Minnamurra Public School.
“He’s doing really well at school. He’s still coming home really chatty in his own way. He’s coming home with a little bit more attitude I think, as does happen when they get to school,” Mrs Heffernan said.
He’s starting to really show his personality to the teachers, and the teachers are starting to know that it’s okay to go mad at him and treat him like every other child in the class, which is really good,” she laughed.
“He’s got some amazing friends at the school.”
Meanwhile, KidzWish wish recipient Dexter was in attendance for the ninth annual KidzWish Bowls Day fundraising event on Friday. The event took place at Wiseman Park Bowling Club.
KidzWish marketing manager Karouna Micheal said they were fundraising to purchase new equipment for Dexter to improve his independence.
“Additional funds raised will support the construction of the new KidzWish Place in Flinders, benefiting Illawarra and South Coast children who are sick, disadvantaged or have a disability,” he said.