INSPIRING:Four-year-old Sophie Delezio laps up the sunshine at Byron Bay yesterday.Picture: JACKLYNWAGNER
INSPIRING:Four-year-old Sophie Delezio laps up the sunshine at Byron Bay yesterday.Picture: JACKLYNWAGNER

Sophie, bravest ot the brave

By Hannah Ross

ALMOST two years ago, Sophie Delezio was fighting for her life. Yesterday at Byron Bay it was possible to believe the tragedy happened for a reason.

Few other people, adult or child, could have survived the burns Sophie received when a car ploughed into the Roundhouse Childcare Centre in Sydney on December 15, 2003.

Even as she lay critically ill in Sydney's Westmead Hospital with third-degree burns to 85 per cent of her body, Sophie proved to her parents and medical staff the powers of positivity.

"She has survived through the benefit of her personality. She is so social and vibrant," said her father, Ron Delezio.

It is heartbreaking to imagine the decision put before Sophie's parents in the weeks after the accident. Twice doctors asked Ron and mother Carolyn if they should let Sophie go.

Ron Delezio wondered how he could possibly know the answer to that question.

"You will see it in her face," was the doctor's reply.

However, Ron never saw anything in the face of his daughter but a will to live.

Watching Sophie gad about the expansive decks of the Byron at Byron resort in Suffolk Park yesterday, it is clear Ron and and Carolyn made the right choice.

Like any four-year-old Sophie loves the beach, and has made it her holiday mission to find some wallabies in the rainforest behind the resort.

Ron said as much as he might wish the accident never happened, 'we can't now let it be for nothing'.

"We're confronted by what's happening with Sophie every day and the emotions that go with that. It's very sad, but I have to stop thinking about those things and concentrate on what we have and the good we can do," he said.

That good includes the $1 million the Delezios have raised for Sydney's Westmead Hospital burns unit since they launched their charity Day of Difference in December last year.

It also includes the inspiration Sophie gives to people, especially other sick children during her regular stints back in hospital.

"People come up out of the blue and tell Sophie she has been an inspiration," Mrs Delezio said.

But even little fighters like Sophie need a break from the trials of medical treatment and the pressures associated with her every day environment.

So of course, the family jumped at the offer of a week-long holiday on the house from the managers of Byron at Byron.

Information on the Delezio's Day of Difference can be found at www.dayofdifference.com.au



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