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Not many 8-year-olds can say they have been on two helicopter rides.
But Dayton Preston isn’t like most other 8-year-olds – he has never eaten a meal in his life.
The Taranaki boy first flew in a helicopter to Starship children’s hospital when he was a 2-year-old.
Last week, his mother Chantelle Luke organised for him to fly over the New Plymouth Festival of Lights with Heliview New Plymouth.
It was a surprise for the youngster, who was born with heart defects that required surgery twice just two weeks after he was born.
He suffered a paralysed vocal cord in one of the operations, and as a result has been fed by a tube his whole life.
Anything Dayton does eat goes into his lungs, not his stomach, which causes life threatening pneumonia and chest infections.
Last year, Dayton’s family received the heartbreaking news from his specialists that they believed he would never eat.
Luke is on a mission to get Dayton the best quality of life she can because in his eight years, he has already missed out on so much.
His prescriptions fill a binder, he has been to Starship more than 50 times, and he has to be hooked up to his “kai” machine to be fed.
She has started fundraising to make Dayton’s dream of meeting his Transformers hero Optimus Prime at Universal Studio in Hollywood a reality.
Dayton has got a Transformer for every procedure he has had – like a child with cancer getting a bead of courage when they have treatment.
‘‘To a kid who isn’t sick they’re just toys, but to Dayton they are badges of courage of painful procedures and scary surgeries,” Luke said.
After eight years of using syringes to flush water through his feeding tubes five times a day, Ms Luke came up with the idea of using them for a more creative purpose.
Dayton was let loose on canvasses with syringes loaded with paint, and had a blast.
It was “great fun” and therapeutic for Dayton to use them to create his canvas masterpieces, which he sold on TradeMe to raise money for his trip.
Due to popular demand, Dayton is painting more miniature canvasses in the coming weeks – with each one getting him a step closer to meeting Optimus Prime.
The canvases are just one of Luke’s many ideas to raise $10,000 for the trip – efforts that add a lot to her already full schedule.
But she is indefatigable in her efforts because above all else, “life is a prize”. That’s Dayton’s motto.
Donate to Dayton’s quality of life fund here.
Follow his journey here.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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