Community’s generosity keeps Kallaroo mother’s dream of hearing son say ‘I love you’ alive

Malcolm Healey, Renae Goosen, Jasmine Healey (6) and mum Leanne Maiden holding Cooper Healey. Picture: Bruce Hunt d474258
Malcolm Healey, Renae Goosen, Jasmine Healey (6) and mum Leanne Maiden holding Cooper Healey. Picture: Bruce Hunt d474258

KALLAROO mother Leanne Maiden dreams of one day hearing her two-year-old son Cooper say, ‘I love you’.

It is a dream she hopes is a step closer to reality after supporters rallied to help fund the toddler’s attendance in a three-week intensive therapy program in January.

Cooper was one of 13 children accepted into the Perth ‘pop-up’ program being run by the NAPA (Neurological and Physical Abilitation) Centre, which was founded in California and opened a Sydney centre in 2013.

Ms Maiden said she had spoken with many families whose children benefitted from the centre.

“It’s the therapy but it’s also the equipment provided, it’s state of the art,” she said.

“It’s a different understanding of how that all connects from the brain to different parts of the body.”

Cooper was delivered via emergency caesarean in 2015 and had the umbilical cord wrapped three times around his neck.

“It was a pretty close call, if they had probably waited an extra night he wouldn’t have made it,” she said.

He spent a week in intensive care then another three in hospital and a day before being released, doctors discovered Cooper had serious brain damage.

Cooper has been diagnosed with spastic quadriplegia cerebral palsy, dystonia (involving spasms), epilepsy and severe visual impairment, requiring fulltime one-on-one care.

He has regular physiotherapy, speech and occupational therapy, hydrotherapy and frequent medical appointments but Ms Maiden and partner Mal Healey knew it was critical to access the intensive early intervention provided by the NAPA Centre now.

The Perth program costs US$7800 and they ideally want to attend two more in Sydney the same year.

They were planning to sell personal belongings to pay for the sessions but close friend Renae Goosen, of Pearsall, stepped in and created a GoFundMe campaign.

“She said, ‘I really want to do this for you guys’,” Ms Maiden said.

“We were a bit reluctant at first… we didn’t want to put pressure on other people.”

Ms Goosen said the family had done “an amazing job” with “beautiful little soul” Cooper.

“We’re very close to them and Cooper holds a very special place in my heart,” she said.

“With special needs I guess people don’t realise how expensive things are for the little guy.

“It’s great to be able to help in this way.

“He’s an amazing little boy and I just hope he can get what he needs.”

The campaign has raised more than $15,000, half of their goal to pay for the three programs.

“We weren’t expecting it to hit even close to $10,000,” she said.

“That’s going to give him three lots of NAPA; I can’t even begin to imagine what it will do for him.”

Ms Maiden hopes the sessions will help Cooper become more mobile and interact more with his doting six-year-old sister Jasmine.

“Every day we’re just so proud of how much he’s improving,” she said.

“And it’s the little things that people take for granted as a parent of a neurotypical kid.

“The day he says ‘I love you’… my heart just melts at the thought of it.”

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