Belfast Telegraph

Coleraine wonder-boy Oliver helping kids like him visit Santa in Lapland

By Victoria Leonard

A boy who was told he would be wheelchair-bound for life is to "walk to Scotland" in aid of charity.

Oliver Dickey is raising funds for the NI Children to Lapland and Days to Remember Trust to help it grant precious wishes for other seriously ill children.

In December 2013 Oliver (8), who is from Coleraine and suffers from the spastic diplegia form of cerebral palsy, was one of a host of youngsters with severe medical conditions who flew to Lapland to meet Santa on the charity's annual trip.

His mum Charlene says Oliver made a wish on Santa's magic drum that he would be able to walk - and "banged as hard as he could".

Days later the family returned home and received an email from St Louis' Children's Hospital in America, which informed them that their eldest son had been selected for life-changing selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR) surgery.

The community rallied around, raising more than £120,000 for the surgery and Oliver's future treatment.

Now, almost four years since he made his wish, Oliver has astounded doctors with his progress.

He insists on accompanying his dad on the fundraising 'Walk to Scotland' aboard the Belfast to Cairnryan ferry on November 19 so that "another boy or girl can go to Lapland and make a wish too".

"Oliver remembers his time over in Lapland so well, even though he was only small," Charlene told the Belfast Telegraph.

"At that stage he couldn't walk at all, he was in a wheelchair, and he loved going on the husky rides, making cookies with Mrs Claus and meeting Santa.

"Banging on Santa's magic drum and wishing that he could walk is a special memory for him, and it wouldn't have been possible without the Children to Lapland and Days to Remember Trust."

Since their own trip to the North Pole, the Dickey family have been fundraising for the charity.

And when Oliver, who is now able to walk using aids, heard his parents discussing this year's fundraising walk, he was determined to be involved.

"Oliver said that he wants to raise money so that another sick boy or girl can have their wish granted," Charlene added.

"With all he has been through he has had to grow up a bit quicker, and he is such a caring child.

"Every year the Lapland Trust holds a special walk on board the Stena Line superfast ship from Belfast to Cairnryan.

"The fundraisers are aiming to raise a minimum of £100 each, although we are aiming to raise more, as it costs £600 to send one child to Lapland.

"They walk around a route on the deck of the ship, and when the ship gets to Cairnryan we don't disembark - instead they sail back to Belfast and have a big party with food, music and magician Rodd Hogg."

After her own family's experience, Charlene and her husband Neil have been left in awe of the charity's efforts on behalf of sick kids.

"These trips provide precious memories which their families can treasure forever," she added.

To donate to Oliver's fundraising efforts, visit the 'Oliver's walk to Scotland' page on Justgiving.com

Belfast Telegraph

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