A 12-year-old with a spinal disorder has been gifted a $25,000 powered wheelchair so he can compete in an international soccer tournament.
Nova 96.9’s Fitzy and Wippa revealed on Tuesday they would be paying for Sydney schoolboy Ryan Seck’s specially customised ‘powerchair’.
Ryan has been selected for the Australian under-21 Powerchair soccer team despite his young age. Most of his teammates are in high school or university.
Generous: Nova 96.9’s Fitzy and Wippa revealed on Tuesday they would be paying for Sydney pupil Ryan Seck’s specially customised ‘powerchair’
Inspiring: Ryan (centre in wheelchair) and his parents (second from left and far right) were given the gift of a $25,000 powered wheelchair and a $5,000 travel grant so he can compete
Beyond his years: Ryan, who has four years of wheelchair soccer experience, will face opposition in the Asia-Pacific-Oceania Cup in his new lower, faster, more sensitive wheelchair (announcement pictured)
For a while, it looked like Ryan – who suffers from spinal muscular atrophy – wouldn’t be able to join the ‘Poweroos’ because he doesn’t have a specialised wheelchair.
‘He needs a customised powerchair, and they’re only made in the U.S., to be able to compete in this championships,’ Ryan ‘Fitzy’ Fitzgerald explained.
‘We wanted to make his dream come true today. Ryan’s efforts are incredible – for a 12-year-old boy to represent an under-21’s team is unbelievable.’
What is spinal muscular atrophy?
Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) is a disease that weakens a patient’s strength by affecting the motor nerve cells in the spinal cord.
It results in gradual muscle wasting and the severity of symptoms varies by type
Type 1 SMA is the most severe and is evident at birth. The weakening of muscles means sufferers cannot sit and usually leads to death by the age of five
Type 2 is intermediate with the sufferer being unable to stand
Type 3 is mild and makes it difficult to get up from a sitting position, while
Type 4 sufferers don’t have symptoms until they are in their 20s or 30s
Speaking to children at Harrington Street Public School in Cabramatta via video link, Fitzy revealed that Nova FM would not only be paying for Ryan’s chair but also covering his travel costs too.
‘Cindy, Hong [Ryan’s parents] and Ryan, we’re going to be sending you guys overseas to go see him compete for Australia!’ he added.
The schoolboy appeared lost for words at the gift, while his mother expressed her gratitude.
‘I’m so excited about the grant and thank you to Nova and all the teachers at Harrington Street for helping us to achieve our goal,’ Cindy said.
School staff had initially set up a GoFundMe page to raise money to buy the powerchair.
They had raised $8,240 of the $30,000 goal before Fitzy and Wippa got involved and provided the rest of the money.
Ryan, who has four years of wheelchair soccer experience, will face opposition in the Asia-Pacific-Oceania Cup in his new faster and more sensitive wheelchair.
The chair comes complete with leg guards, harnesses and a faster motor to ensure it is agile enough to move around the court at high speeds.
Surprise! Appearing on a video link Fitzy revealed the radio station would be fronting the cost not only of Ryan’s chair but his family’s travel too (pictured his father Hong speaking to Nova newsreader Matt de Groot)