Who doesn’t love the simplicity of swinging on a swing and taking in the sights of the neighborhood?
Those are two favorite pastimes for a boy in Bernardsville named Neil. Neil, who is a growing ten-year old and also uses a wheelchair was finding it harder and harder to enjoy a regular swing, so Neil had a wish – to have an outdoor wheelchair swing – and that wish was recently granted by Make-A-Wish New Jersey.
Neil was born with a genetic condition, Mecp2 Duplication Syndrome, and diagnosed with Moyamoya Disease a few years later. His medical conditions have left him severely disabled and medically fragile. His genetic condition left him non-verbal, and with low muscle tone, which results in respiratory issues, GI issues, and the inability to walk. At the age of 2 1/2, Neil suffered a stroke and his family learned he had Moyamoya Disease. Neil has to be very careful when being outside; he cannot be in the hot sun and he must stay hydrated due to his stroke risk.
When Neil’s family discussed the possibilities of a wish for him, they knew a state-of-the-art swing that could accommodate his wheelchair would be life-changing because it has become increasingly difficult to use other swings as he grows. Make-A-Wish worked with vendors in the local community and identified a swing structure that would accommodate Neil and his wheelchair and bring back the joy swinging has always provided him in the past.
The set was installed in Neil’s front yard at the request of his family, for one particular and significant reason. Aside from being in a swing, one other thing that brings him joy is watching cars go by his home. The swing was installed in the front yard so Neil could experience both at the same time.
Neil’s parade was a surprise for him, as the town of Bernardsville and surrounding communities came out in large numbers to drive by and celebrate Neil and his wish. The convoy was led by the Bernardsville Police Department who were also instrumental in orchestrating traffic patterns, staging areas, and organizing the crowd of participants.
Neil’s wish celebration also fell on a significant milestone day for Make-A-Wish. On that same day, the global organization granted its 500,000th wish. Make-A-Wish President and CEO, Tom Weatherall shared this on the day of the parade. “Today is a celebration of Neil and his life-changing wish for this special swing that accommodates his wheelchair. We are honored to be able to bring his two favorite experiences together – the sense of freedom on a swing, and the joy of watching cars go by, cheering his name. Today’s parade brings to life what we’ve long known to be true – wish kids and their families inspire the community daily. As we surpass a global milestone at Make-A-Wish – 500,000 wishes granted since our mission began in 1980 – we are humbled by the support our generous community has shown us in the past, and continues to provide us as we face our future. While wishes involving travel have been postponed for the health and safety of our wish families, wishes like Neil’s are being granted every day. Wishes are not cancelled. We are in the business of providing hope.”