A fundraising golf tournament is being held Sunday, Sept. 17 at Glen Afton Golf Course to help the McConnell family of Georgetown afford a bigger vehicle to drive their son, Dexter, second from left, back and forth to the IWK in Halifax. Pictured are Dexter’s parents, Justin, left, Amy, and their other son, Jaxon.
©Dave Stewart/The Guardian
Seven years ago, Justin and Amy McConnell were planning the funeral for their newborn boy, Dexter.
Today, the Georgetown couple is asking Islanders to help them pay for a bigger vehicle for Dexter’s wheelchair to make trips to the IWK in Halifax easier.
The Currie Memorial Benefit Golf Tournament at Glen Afton Golf Course has jumped on board with an event scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 17, with a shotgun start at 9 a.m.
Dexter was born, full-term, weighing just over three pounds. Amy and Justin knew right away something wasn’t right.
Dexter couldn’t eat or have a bowel movement for the first couple of days at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Charlottetown. He was flown over to the IWK.
“He was born on a Saturday and he was flown over on a Sunday to Halifax,’’ explains Amy. “We got there Sunday evening. We were only there five minutes and they pulled us into a room.’’
The news wasn’t good.
“We were planning for a funeral,’’ Justin says. “We had to. When he was first born they thought he had something else and he wasn’t going to live if he had it. It was bad.’’
Luckily, Dexter didn’t have the life-threatening condition that doctors thought, but he did have serious problems that will affect the rest of his life.
He has a micro deletion of chromosome 1p, the main chromosome in the body. It meant that Dexter couldn’t keep anything down and would suffocate when he got upset. Surgeries were performed.
Then the McConnells found out Dexter had Crohn’s disease and needed a colostomy bag, which he will have for life.
There were times when Dexter would gag and choke.
One night he stopped breathing.
Justin performed CPR on the 12-pound boy before Dexter was rushed to the QEH and then flown to Halifax. They were there another six weeks as Dexter recovered from pneumonia and waited for another big surgery.
Amy and Justin said putting Dexter in a home or giving him up for adoption never crossed their minds, but admit life has been a major challenge.
“We really had to change everything from working to our home to our lifestyle to friendships (and) family,’’ Amy says. “Everything changed. You either had support or you didn’t or you either had the funds or you didn’t so, for us, we chose to stay home and look after him.’’
Dexter needs 24-hour supervision. He’s fed every two hours and is up until 1 a.m. gagging and choking.
Dexter can’t walk or speak, but he can say ‘momma’ and is aware of his surroundings.
“The doctors said to us you are never going to get him home and we were like, ‘Yeah, we will, what do we need to do?’’’
Justin is working to get his resident care worker course, but Amy says living on a one-person income isn’t easy with a family of four. They also have a two-year-old son.
“It’s made life challenging but there are rewards, too. (Dexter’s) smile is infectious; it makes it worth it. He’s definitely something.
“He’s definitely got personality,’’ Justin adds as Dexter flashes that big smile.
Call the Glen Afton pro shop at 902-675-3000 to register for the fundraising golf tournament.
Information about the Currie Memorial Benefit Golf Tournament for Dexter McConnell:
- Takes place at Glen After Golf Course on Sunday, Sept. 17
- Shotgun start at 9 a.m.
- Two-person scramble team
- Fees are $140 per team for non-members (includes shared drive car) and $110 per team for members (includes drive car)
- Call the pro shop at 902-675-3000 to register