Blake McCaughey had a Christmas to remember this year, receiving a trio of amazing gifts before Santa delivered the icing on the cake.
The family of the six-year-old have been fundraising for the past six months to buy a new wheelchair for Blake from Breagh Lodge in the town.
Six days before Christmas he was presented with a new lightweight wheelchair and 15 minutes later he’d perfected a ‘wheelie’. The following day Blake received another boost when he learnt the Make a Wish Foundation had granted him his wish of a trip to Orlando.
Then just before Christmas, the family got an unexpected gift of £500 worth of sensory equipment for Blake from a local company.
It’s fair to say Blake, who attends Ceara School in Lurgan, got more than he bargained for given that all he had asked for from Santa was a football.
His mum Christine said, “The Mayor presented him with the wheelchair, then the following day he found out he was going to Orlando. Then we received the unexpected gift of £500 worth of sensory equipment.
“We needed just under £6,000 for the new wheelchair. We ended up with £9,800 in six months.
“The rest of the money has been put aside to get him a special car seat which will do him until he’s 15. People have been so generous and we can’t thank them enough. The community spirit has been tremendous. It would be unfair to single out any individuals, but Blake and his family are eternally grateful to everyone.”
She added, “The wheelchair has given him so much more independence. Within 15 minutes of getting it he was able to do a ‘wheelie’. The old chair was too heavy for him to do any complex manoeuvres. Because of Blake’s heart condition he needed something that was lighter to get around. It’s just perfect. He loves it. He’s over the moon about the trip to Orlando as well.
“All this came in the run-up to Christmas, so we thought Christmas Day might have been an anti-climax. That wasn’t the case. When he came into the room on Christmas morning he said, “Where’s my football? When we gave it to him he couldn’t have been happier.”
Blake has an undiagnosed neurological muscular disorder which means he cannot swallow food or drink safely into his stomach without aspirating into his lungs and causing pneumonia.
He is seen by doctors, community nurses and therapists on a weekly basis.
Blake, a fan of Liverpool and Portadown, can’t wait to get down to Shamrock Park to show off his new wheels.