Ten year old Max Hewison has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (a muscle-wasting disease) and two years ago lost the ability to walk. He subsequently spends a lot of his time watching documentaries about animals so on Friday 22 February, Make-A-Wish Foundation® UK, the charity that grants magical wishes to children and young people fighting life-threatening conditions, sent him to be a zookeeper for the day so that he could get up close and personal with the animals that fascinate him the most…reptiles!
Max, who is from Brighton, arrived at Paradise Wildlife Park in Broxbourne along with his Mum, Lisa, eight year old brother, Samuel, and Aunt, Tanya. He was taken on a tour of the park by Head Reptile Keeper, Tom, before being taken to the reptile centre to get up close and personal with snakes, lizards and a five year old tarantula called Rose! Max could manage just one word – “wow”!
Diagnosed when he was just three years old, Max has undergone several operations but has now made the decision, with his family, not to have any more treatment. As well as Max’s diagnosis, Samuel has recently been diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder called Prader-Willi Syndrome which causes constant hunger and behavioural problems.
Lisa said: “When Max was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy it was very hard to take in. Now he’s older he does ask a lot of questions and he does realise what will happen…in his heart, his mind and his body everything’s giving up but he will not give up himself which is why his wish has been absolutely brilliant. We couldn’t have asked for anything else.”
There are currently 20,000 children and young people in the UK fighting a life-threatening condition and this year Make-A-Wish will grant over 1,100 wishes. The charity needs to raise £7 million in 2013 to achieve this and receives no government funding or lottery grants – so every donation really does count.