Henry before illnessA year ago, three-year-old Henry was happily racing round his family's Rockhampton farm on his bike.

He was a little ball of energy and loved the open space.

Tragically, in a matter of days, he'd lost the ability to move and was on life support in hospital.

Mum Eugenie said it was frightening how quickly her little boy fell ill.

Henry had a chest infection and was having trouble breathing. He was rushed from Rockhampton to Queensland Children's Hospital in Brisbane.

Complications arose affecting Henry's spinal cord which led to muscle weakness and paralysis. As Henry's condition worsened, surgeons decided to perform a tracheostomy.

Henry in hospital

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We felt lost. We didn't know if Henry would survive. We had to suddenly uproot our lives, but we knew had to stay strong for Henry.
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Henry's mum, Eugenie

In total Henry spent 210 days in the hospital's intensive care unit (ICU).

He now needs 24/7 care. His quadriplegia means he is wheelchair-bound and relies on a ventilator to breathe.

Henry can never be more than 40km from hospital, so the family had to relocate to Brisbane from their home in North Queensland.

"Moving from the bush to the city was such a massive transition for us, every part of our lives changed."

Amid all their pain, the family had Starlight's hospital programs and Eugenie said it's impossible to imagine their agonising months hospital without these essential services.

"Starlight is absolutely amazing. Hospital is such a scary place for kids without Starlight there."

Henry with Captain Starlight in the Starlight Express Room

Captain Starlight visited Henry during his long and lonely days stuck in ICU and their fun and laughter always cheered him up.

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Captain Starlight helps kids cope in hospital. Kids can forget about their painful treatment and it helps them adjust to everything that's going on around them.
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Henry's mum, Eugenie

When Henry was well enough, he would visit the Starlight Express Room to take a break and just be a kid again. In the Starlight Express Room he's affectionately known as 'King Henry!'

Henry with Captain Starlight

For a long time, Henry couldn't talk but has gradually learned to speak again. Eugenie said the Captains made a such a difference during that difficult time.

"They would make Henry smile when he was only beginning to smile again. The day Henry learned to speak again we took him straight to the Starlight Express Room and the Captains were joking with him and encouraged him to laugh again."

Eugenie said Captain Starlight makes kids happy when they need it most and is thankful to Starlight supporters.

Henry with his parents

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If you could see the joy on my son's face when he sees Captain Starlight. He has the biggest smile! Starlight is essential - it's the only way sick kids can escape from their frightening life in hospital and it helps parents seeing their kids happy. I have had tears in my eyes seeing the joy Captain Starlight brings to my son.
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Henry's mum, Eugenie
Stories like these are only made possible thanks to our generous supporters. If you'd like to help make a difference for a child, you can donate below.
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