Hyundai Help for Kids - an ace day out.
Hyundai Help for Kids provides special Brisbane Lions game-day experience for young hero.
For some, sport is merely a diversion, for others it is a fierce and fiery passion, but for 18-year-old Ace Bryans it’s much more than that. It’s a reason to live. And his beloved Brisbane Lions are more than his team, they’re his family. So when Hyundai Help for Kids teamed up with Make-A-Wish Australia recently to provide Ace with a money-can’t-buy game-day experience at the Gabba, it was more than just a great day out, it was the definition of a dream come true.
DREAM COME TRUE.
Ace was diagnosed with dystonia at age one and, while he has full cognitive function, he can’t communicate verbally and has limited dexterity with his hands, so he uses his eyes – which were brimming with joy on the day – to control an electronic augmentative communication device.
Despite being a Melbourne boy, Ace is a mad Lions fan, while his Mum, Raylene, is a lifelong follower of Carlton. Ace’s family were invited to join the Lions inner sanctum in the lead up to match day attending training sessions, meeting the players beforehand, toss the coin out in the middle of the field on game day and then watch the match from the Hyundai VIP Lounge section, which has some of the best seats at the Gabba.
Raylene says Ace had been having difficulty eating the week before he was told about his Lions wish coming true, but then he brightened overnight and started to sleep and eat better as they counted down the days to their drive from Melbourne to Brisbane to join this very special pack.
“I sat there trying to think how to describe what it means, but I can’t, and I don’t think Ace can either, because it’s been our life,” an emotional Raylene said afterwards. “Football is what’s held us together, it’s what’s kept Ace going, because it’s something to focus on; instead of focusing medically, we focus on football and it takes away all the pain, I guess. He does suffer a lot of pain. I’ve seen Ace smile so much today, and he’s been feeling a million dollars and feeling special, and we’ll never forget it.”
HEART OF A LION
For his part, Ace was telling everyone in the room and in the stadium just how happy he was with the whole experience, but it was clear one of the things he enjoyed most was the chance to speak to the players, including his personal favourite, Daniel Rich, to fire them up before the game. Using his communication device and his expressive eyes, Ace explained his medical history to the team in the days leading up to the match.
“I have a lot of complications with my breathing, my heart, my spine, I have constant nausea and just recently I’ve had difficulty eating and swallowing, but on the bright side, I’m here! And my mind still works fine, as you can clearly see, because I picked the most bloody awesome team,” his synthesised voice boomed, to huge cheers from the team.
“My wish was to meet all you guys and it gave me a reason to wake up and get through my days. You have no idea how happy I am meeting you, you are my heroes. This wish is so important to me, because you are all part of my family and now I finally get to meet my family in person.”
Ace’s keen sense of humour was on display as Daniel Rich – who looks a bit like Chris Hemsworth – presented him with a Brisbane Lions Guernsey with ‘Ace’ on the back, and a bunch of other gifts.
“I’m bloody dying right now, ha-ha-ha,” Ace said. “Hey Daniel Rich, I hear you’re called Dan and Richie, but if you don’t mind, I really think ‘Thor’ suits you way better, as you’re a God in my eyes.”
Rich was so moved by the meeting that he wrote Ace’s name on his wrist taping before the game, to remind him who he was playing for. Rich then asked the excited young man if he had one more thing to say to the team. “Show no mercy!” was Ace’s emphatic response.
The Lions did just that, thumping Carlton by 65 points and making Ace’s day even more perfect. Joining in the victory celebrations with his beloved players was the perfect way to end the day, creating memories that will stay with Ace, and his family, for the rest of their lives.
The Hyundai Help for Kids iView hosts special guests from some of its beneficiaries at every Brisbane Lions home game, and on the day that Ace visited they also hosted kids from Darling Point Special School, who enjoyed a fabulous super-hero party, and got to form a guard of honour for the players and lead the team on to the field with two junior mascots.
During the 2018 AFL season, Hyundai Help for Kids iView in collaboration with the Brisbane Lions hosted a record 198 special guests over the 11 rounds played at the Gabba, including children and their families from Ronald McDonald House Charities Australia, Little Stars Kids, the Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children, the Mater Foundation and Australian Cervical Cancer Foundation.
A recipient of Hyundai Help for Kids support and funding, Make-A-Wish Australia was founded in 1985 and has granted over 8,500 wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses. Those wishes give very sick children and teenagers hope for the future, strength to face the challenges of their conditions, and unforgettable joy.
Hyundai Help for Kids currently supports 18 not-for-profit organisations and programs and every now and then, as it did with Ace, the program gets the opportunity to do something truly rewarding and memorable, like making a young boy’s dreams come true.
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