Westbrook family is grateful for dad's life-changing surgery

THE Hanley family is working on a colourful piece of wall art filled with hundreds of names - some of people they will never meet.

Whenever children Sophia, 5, and Aiden, 4, look at the wall they will see physical proof of good in the world.

The names are of the family members, friends, neighbours and complete strangers who helped their dad Chris receive life-changing surgery.

The ex-footballer is now recovering from a cervical artificial disc replacement which was 12 years in the making.

In 2005 Mr Hanley injured his neck during an Australian Under 21 trial match.

Chris and Emily Hanley. Chris has had successful extensive surgery on throat after the community raised thousands for the family . June 2017
Chris and Emily Hanley. Chris has had successful extensive surgery on throat after the community raised thousands for the family . June 2017 Bev Lacey

Then in 2011 he sustained further injuries and nerve damage from a compromised position in a tackle.

It was the start of a harrowing medical journey with neurosurgeons and pain management specialists.

This year when he was finally offered surgery in Brisbane, Mr Hanley and his wife Emily found themselves with a looming surgery date and not a penny to put towards it.

They tried to sell their family home and when that failed, as a last resort, Mrs Hanley started a GoFundMe account. It ended up raising more than $24,000 and helped the family afford the operation.

Chris, Aiden, Emily & Sophia Hanley.
Chris, Aiden, Emily & Sophia Hanley.

"Every time we saw another donation, Chris and I got tears in our eyes," she said.

Mr Hanley has localised pain from the procedure but the severity of the pain from the injury and nerve damage has diminished, allowing him to be the playful, active father he always knew he was.

Not only have people showed the family generosity by helping them financially, they have also offered their time.

Family members looked after their children and dog and offered accommodation. Neighbours mowed the family's lawn and brought over boxes of food and Mrs Hanley's boss even organised to have their house cleaned.

Mrs Hanley said: "I want our children to always remember the kindness we were shown and that in a world where you can be anything - be kind."



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