A WOKING boy leaves for the US on Saturday to begin life-changing specialist medical treatment.

Four-year-old Dexter Summerscales-Heard was born with quadriplegic cerebral palsy, suffers with epilepsy, is unable to speak and is fully reliant on his wheelchair and family to assist his daily activities.

Nor is Dexter able to eat orally. Doctors found that his swallowing function was diverting food into his lungs, instead of his stomach – posing a critical threat of respiratory failure.

Now, though, thanks largely to a fundraising ballet gala, Dancing for a Dream, held at the New Victoria Theatre in Woking last November, Dexter can access state-of-the-art VitalStim therapy, which addresses swallowing disorders, at the NAPA Centre in California.

“We set a target of £30,000 to get Dexter to the US and the gala massively helped us to achieve that,” Dexter’s mother, Gemma, said.

Dancing for a Dream was put together by Dexter’s aunt and uncle, international principal ballet dancers Laurretta Summerscales and her husband Yonah Acosta, who live in Kingfield, near Dexter and his family.

The gala featured some of the world’s top dancers, including principals and soloists from the Royal Ballet, English National Ballet, Northern Ballet and the Bayerisches Staatsballett in Munich, and was hosted by star choreographer Wayne Sleep.

The evening was so successful Gemma was able to book flights to the US days later.

“It has been pretty busy since then,” Gemma said as she put the finishing touches to packing. “We have had to make a lot of preparations for the trip, a lot more than we realised.

“We needed special permission for Dexter’s medications to enter America, as well as producing evidence for them to travel in hand baggage. We have quite a lot of bags!

“We are there for 24 days,” Gemma added. “He will be there Monday to Friday having the therapy, but we will have weekends free to explore.”

For the full story get the 23 January edition of the News & Mail