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Little Liam receives bravery award

Three-year-old Liam Heffernan and his family are celebrating after the Kerry native won an award for bravery. Liam has Batten’s disease and underwent brain surgery in New York recently.

Liam Heffernan with his father Tony (right) and mother Mary, and Shay Kinsella from Share a Dream (left)
Liam Heffernan with his father Tony (right) and mother Mary, and Shay Kinsella from Share a Dream (left)
Image: Tony Heffernan

LITTLE LIAM HEFFERNAN, the three-year-old Co Kerry boy who recently underwent brain surgery in the US, has been awarded for his bravery.

Liam won the award at the Share a Dream Foundation’s National Children of Courage Awards, which was held at the Radisson Blu in Limerick at the weekend.

Liam has Batten’s disease, which claimed the life of his older sister Saoirse (5) earlier this year.

His parents set up the Bee for Battens organisation after Saoirse and Liam were diagnosed with the condition.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie today, Tony said he was extremely proud of his son, who received the award from RTÉ present Miriam O’Callaghan.

“You can’t but be proud of him – he’s kept the whole family going this year,” said Tony.

We lost Saoirse at the start of the year and Liam became our focus.

Tony said that Liam is “taking it all in his stride” following his win, and that “he doesn’t think that he’s anything special at all”.

However, one thing that Liam is aware of is his fantastic prize – a trip for the family to Disneyland Paris.

“He’s fully aware that he is going on a plane to Mickey Mouse the week after next,” laughed Tony. “Every second sentence starts with ‘Mickey’s plane soon’!”

It will be an emotional return to Disneyland Paris for the family, as the last time they were there was with Saoirse.

She went on the trip with her parents and brother thanks to Share A Dream, who made her wish come true by taking her to the magical place.

“We’re not looking forward to that element of it, but we’ve never shied away with trying to keep hold of the happy memories with the sad,” said Tony, who added he is looking forward to making more happy memories on this visit, as well as remembering their time there with Saoirse.

Liam has recently returned from America, where he underwent brain surgery at the Weill Cornell University Hospital in New York.

He is the youngest person to ever receive the surgery.

It involved drilling six small holes in his skull to administer replacement genes in an effort to counter Batten’s, which is a rare neurological disorder.

Explained his father:

He’s only back from America and we’ve had a delay from getting results from brain scans, so we’re a bit anxious about that. But physically he has improved a lot and we are delighted. We just take every day as it comes.

The other award winners who will also travel to Paris are: Kate Crowley (4), from Dunkettle, Cork; Brooklyn Kerley (8), from Dundalk; Nicola O’Leary (7), from Clarina, Co Limerick; Aishlinn Roisin Quaid (4), from Limerick; Matthew Flynn (7), from Headford, Co Galway and Jason Lorrigan (7), from Kildysart, Co Clare.

Read: Kerry toddler Liam Heffernan making “awesome” recovery from brain surgery in New York>

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