LUCA Hurley is just 16 months old, yet fate has dished him up more adversity than the average elderly person would endure in their entire life.
Looking at the beautiful, affectionate infant, you would never guess he was born with a hole in his heart-one so large that surgeons had to operate on him at the tender age of five weeks following a bout of bronchiolitis that weakened his tiny body.
The open heart surgery went well, but in transit to the normal ward a line had to be removed which unexpectedly caused a massive bleed, according to his parents Laura and Tony.
"It took 45 minutes of CPR to save him, then 10 days on life support," Mrs Hurley said.
Little Luca suffered global brain injury as a result and now has cerebral palsy and cortical vision damage, a condition where his eyes can see, but his brain cannot register what he sees.
The people of Cabarita and surrounds have opened their hearts and arms to the family, with the newsagency selling raffle tickets to raise funds towards the minimum $25,000 a year needed for Luca's one-on-one therapy.
When you see little Luca, you'll see why businesses from Cabarita, Byron Bay, Casuarina, and around the region have donated prizes.
It makes you feel ashamed about your own trifling worries when you hear what the little boy has been through.
He cannot swallow, receiving his food via a tube in his nose.
He suffers trachea cardia, where his heartbeat can race to 300 beats a minute.
"We can't stray far from the hospital, just in case it happens again," Mrs Hurley said.
Yet he has the most infectious smile and giggle.
"I'll never forget the first day he smiled," said Mr Hurley.
"It was like the sun shining for the first time.
"To get that feedback was the best moment in our lives."
"Before that, we didn't really know if he was in a happy place," Mrs Hurley said.
His first giggle was on Father's Day.
"Must be when he realised who his dad was," Mr Hurley joked.
"On a serious note, there is nothing as traumatic as seeing your child go through what Luca has been through.
"But we truly believe he will get better."
"In the meantime, we will let him know he is loved enormously and treasure every moment."
Raffle tickets are available at the Cabarita Beach/Bogangar Newsagency with prizes that include two nights at The Beach Cabarita, Aloha Villas, Byron Bay, Grand Mecure, Casuarina and The Hideaway, Cabarita, with many more prizes on offer.
The raffle will be drawn on Friday November 30 at the Beach Bar, Cabarita Beach, at 8.30pm.
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