Less than two months ago, I introduced you to Wee Oliver Dickey.
5-year-old Oliver from Coleraine (of course he is) was diagnosed with the spastic diplegia form of cerebral palsy when he was 18 months old and is confined to a wheelchair. However, Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR) spinal surgery at St Louis Children’s Hospital in the United States should enable him to take his first steps.
But these things cost pounds. Lots of pounds. At least sixty thousand pounds, to be precise. So Oliver's mum Charlene and dad Neil launched an appeal to raise the cash. They had no idea how or if they could do it, or how long it would take. But like the good parents they are - and supported by a strong family and many wonderful friends - they chose to have a go.
They raised a remarkable £1,000 in the first 24 hours. And, in my post of 2 January, I wrote: "Another 59 days like this will do the job."
Well, guess what? They've done the job.
Earlier this week and with Oliver edging ever-closer to his target, Paralympic legend Tanni Grey-Thompson (pictured below) - who was one of the very first high profile public figures to support the Help Wee Oliver Walk campaign on Twitter - issued a personal rallying call for the remaining funds to be raised.
|Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson|
Baroness Grey-Thompson, who won 11 Paralympic gold medals before being elevated to the House of Lords in 2010, said: “I am so impressed with what has been already achieved in Oliver’s name. And with a number of further events planned, I have little doubt that the people of Coleraine and across Northern Ireland will keep giving until the job is done.”
The six-time London Marathon winner continued: “I understand that Oliver has managed to create his own army, complete with matching tee shirts and buckets, which isn’t bad going for a 5-year-old. £60,000 is a very big target, particularly in these difficult economic times. But to get so close in such a short space of time is remarkable. I wish Oliver and his family every possible success with the rest of the campaign and, of course, in America."
She added: “Like everyone else, I would be thrilled to see little Oliver walk.”
And so say all of us.
A cabaret evening at The Bull's Eye in Coleraine last night seems to have brought Oliver over the line. Any remaining doubt will be removed by the time landlady extraordinaire Clare Johnston closes the doors of The Railway Arms following tonight's table quiz.
|A random Oliver Dickey fan|
More long-planned fundraising events will rightly proceed in the coming days and weeks, which will greatly assist with Oliver's aftercare. And any remaining monies will be passed on via the Tree of Hope charity to other kids requiring similar specialist treatment.
Makes you proud, eh?
Well done and thanks to everyone who helped in any way.