12 April 2023

Tarj Baxter's family grateful for community support on the long road to recovery

| Genevieve Jacobs
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family by the water

After a freak accident on a family hike in 2021, Stacy and Darren Baxter’s only son, Tarj, continues to recover. Photo: Supplied.

Tarj Baxter, who miraculously survived a 20-metre fall in Budderoo Park in 2021, continues to recover with support from the community and his family.

A freak accident on a family hike left Stacy and Darren Baxter’s only son unable to walk or speak.

After a day enjoying a secluded swimming spot in Budderoo National Park, Tarj lost his footing on the hike back, tumbling 10m down to a ledge, then rolling off the edge and plunging a further 20m off a sheer cliff “straight onto a rock face”.

It was seven hours before Tarj was able to receive life-saving care in hospital. At the time, doctors told the family to prepare for the worst.

But Tarj, who is now 14, beat the odds at every turn and returned home to his family last April. It’s a long road, however, given the extent of his injuries.

The family home has been wheelchair-modified and the Baxters were able to purchase a modified Kia Carnival, nicknamed the Tarj-mobile, thanks to community fundraising.

While he remains wheelchair-bound and has limited mobility in his hands, an update from the family’s social media page says Tarj has been working “super hard” at his therapies and school despite going through COVID and glandular fever in the interim.

READ ALSO ‘He’s our miracle boy’: community rallies behind Tarj to get him walking again

Surgery has been recently scheduled for his hands and the family hopes he will regain some use of them as a result, in conjunction with extensive rehabilitation therapy. If successful, the surgery will enable Tarj to open and close his hands again – a small but critical step in his ongoing recovery.

A community fundraiser set up by Tarj’s aunt, Emily Chapman, raised more than $70,000 to assist the Baxters but costs are ongoing as Tarj faces years of rehabilitation and therapy.

Tarj has also been diagnosed with scoliosis in his spine and the family is working with specialists to determine the best path forward.

“Despite all the obstacles that seem to be thrown his way, Tarj is still kicking goals. He is an amazing kid who has such strength and courage,” Emily says.

The fundraiser continues and after the purchase of the Kia Carnival last year, any remaining funds will be used for rehabilitation and therapy sessions, which are costly and largely not funded via government support.

Despite his parents’ firm belief that with the right care and support Tarj can regain many skills he has lost, this NDIS funding will only meet the cost of services that maintain his quality of life.

“He is giving it his absolute all whilst on the road to recovery and we couldn’t be happier or prouder of how far our warrior has come,” Emily says.

“Once again, thank you everyone for your love, care and generous support.”

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