Hol­i­days well de­served

Boys fac­ing phys­i­cal chal­lenges fly­ing to Dis­ney World


Deal­ing with phys­i­cal ail­ments that re­quire fre­quent surg­eries is some­thing Bren­don Thorne and Matthew Brad­bury both know plenty about. This week, they will also know what it’s like to visit one of the top desti­na­tions for chil­dren.

Through the Sun­shine Foun­da­tion, an or­ga­ni­za­tion ded­i­cated to ful­fill­ing the dreams of chil­dren chal­lenged by phys­i­cal dis­abil­i­ties, the two boys and their fam­i­lies are sched­uled to travel this week to Walt Dis­ney World in Or­lando, Florida.

The two boys were the cen­tre of at­ten­tion for class­mates at both their schools on Jan. 26, as a pair of spe­cial pre­sen­ta­tions were held to rec­og­nize their im­pend­ing va­ca­tions. Rep­re­sen­ta­tives of re­tail chain Win­ners, a part­ner with the Sun­shine Foun­da­tion, were also on hand.

“ It’s re­ally, re­ally ex­cit­ing,” said Bren­don, an 11-year-old Grade 5 stu­dent at Wood­land Ele­men­tary in Dildo, who lives in Blake­town. “A lot of my friends were go­ing there and telling me how much fun it was, and that’s why I chose to go there.”

Thorne has Os­teo­ge­n­e­sis Im­per­fecta, a ge­netic bone fragility dis­or­der that has left him with many bone frac­tures over the years. Is­sues with Thorne’s bones were first no­ticed at the age of 18 months, and it was not un­til the age of five that he was di­ag­nosed with Os­teo­ge­n­e­sis Im­per­fecta. He makes use of a wheel­chair to at­tend school and vis­its the Janeway in St. John’s once a week for phys­io­ther­apy.

Brad­bury, an eight-year-old at­tend­ing Whit­bourne Ele­men­tary, has Spony­de­phiseal Dy­pla­sia, which causes se­vere joint and back pain for the boy.

“ This is the best day of my life,” said Brad­bury.

Bren­don Thorne’s mother Re­nata Thorne said the at­ten­tion her son is re­ceiv­ing with the free trip to Florida, which will also in­clude both his par­ents and brother Ni­cholas, is un­real.

“ It is a dream come true for all of us,” she says.

Re­nata heard about the Sun­shine Foun­da­tion through an­other fam­ily with a child at the Janeway. An ap­pli­ca­tion was filled out, and within two weeks the fam­ily heard back from the foun­da­tion.

“ It was amaz­ing how quickly ev­ery­thing came to­gether. Grate­ful is not even the word. I’m so pleased about ev­ery­thing the Sun­shine Foun­da­tion has done.” She is also a proud mother. “ It’s un­be­liev­able how good he has been. I guess he was so young when ev­ery­thing started. It’s not nor­mal, no, but he doesn’t know any other life. He doesn’t know about phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity and get­ting up and play­ing like nor­mal chil­dren, be­cause he‘s never been able to do that. I guess what you don’t know, you don’t miss.”

Bren­don is for­tu­nate in a sense, as his mother notes that Os­teo­ge­n­e­sis Im­per­fecta can im­prove as he gets older, and with treat­ment his bones can be­come stronger and thicker, mak­ing for fewer frac­tures down the road.

As for his up­com­ing trip, Bren­don said he’s es­pe­cially look­ing for- ward to rid­ing the Mount Ever­est roller-coaster.

At school, Bren­don en­joys tak­ing part in mu­sic clubs and at­tend­ing gym class. Though his dis­or­der may not al­low him to par­tic­i­pate in gym the same way other stu­dents can, Thorne main­tains a pos­i­tive out­look.

“ I know there are some kids who are worse off than me, so I just think about that. Maybe a lit­tle while later, I won’t have it too bad.”

Wood­land Ele­men­tary prin­ci­pal Lor­raine Har­num said stu­dents at the school of­ten hear about role mod­els. She thinks Bren­don is a very brave boy.

“ We are ex­tremely proud of Bren­don, and we are so for­tu­nate to have him here.”

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