People power funds op for Coleraine boy Oliver Dickey
American surgery will help five-year-old walk
The people of Coleraine have been urged to take a bow after raising enough cash to send a five-year-old boy to America for treatment which will enable him to walk for the first time.
Oliver Dickey's family have dreamt of seeing the youngster learn to walk. And now thanks to the generosity of the public, his parents could soon see those dreams come true.
The Coleraine boy, who was diagnosed with the spastic diplegia form of cerebral palsy at just 18 months, is set to become the first child from Northern Ireland to undergo pioneering surgery in the US after more than £60,000 was raised for him in just eight weeks.
The Help Wee Oliver Walk appeal was launched online on New Year's Day and just eight weeks later the £60,000 target has been exceeded by more than £6,000.
There is now enough money for him to undergo a procedure called selective dorsal rhizotmy (SDR) at the St Louis Children's Hospital in Missouri, to enable him to walk.
Last night, Oliver's mother Charlene told the Belfast Telegraph, she, husband Neil, their three-year-old son Max and the family circle were "delighted".
"The people of Coleraine should stand up and take a bow," she said. "They should be so proud of themselves. We just cannot believe it. It hasn't really sunk in. We never thought we'd get it so quickly."
Oliver is on a waiting list for July so the Dickey family should find out more details in May.
In the meantime they will be focusing on physiotherapy to build Oliver's strength ahead of the operation and are calling for the NHS to confirm they will offer at least three hours per week of the movement therapy after surgery.
The NHS offers Oliver one hour of physiotherapy per week at the moment but the Dickey family say he will need more.
"We are at the stage of talking to (DUP MP) Gregory Campbell's team to help secure as much NHS physio support as possible for Oliver," Charlene said.
"We are trying to get three hours per week from the NHS and we would make up another two on our own. It would be nice to be able to say we have this in place so we don't have to worry about what happens when we come back.
"We just want the best chance for Oliver. We have raised £60,000 in eight weeks and one hour of physio is not enough."
Fundraising events for Oliver are continuing. Tomorrow there is a table quiz at Limavady rugby club anda golf night at Ramore.
"Any money raised will go to fund Oliver's three-year rehab," Charlene said. "Anything after that will go to other children."