Andrew wishes for a new wheelchair
By KELLI DOWNEYkelli@gladstoneobserver.com.au
ALL Andrew Hyman (Young) wants for Christmas is an electric wheelchair.
Not a state of the art toy or computer game, simply a wheelchair so he can live a normal life.
But that is the humble nature of the 12-year-old Tannum Sands youngster who was diagnosed with Osteo Genesis Imperfecta (commonly known as Brittle Bone Disease) at birth.
A hereditary disease which skips generations, Osteo Genesis Imperfecta has meant Andrew has lived his entire life in a wheelchair.
Unlike a normal person, Andrew's bone density becomes weaker rather than stronger.
But that is fine with the spirited youngster who has ably captured the hearts of all who have met him.
An avid rugby league enthusiast and Brisbane Broncos fan, Andrew has this year been restricted with his pursuits following the mechanical failure of his electric wheelchair due to its age.
Not to leave his son disadvantaged, step-dad Brad Long has been actively fundraising to try buy a new wheelchair for Andrew.
Mr Long is the sole carer of Andrew and his brother Jesse, 5, and sister Aimee, 10, after gaining custody of the children two years ago.
Since that time, Mr Long has juggled a fulltime job with caring for the three children, in particular caring for the special needs of Andrew.
He has a hectic schedule which has resulted in the hotel duty manager contemplating the enormous impact it has on the family.
'My mum and dad (Leonie and Bob Long) look after them when I work on the weekends,' Mr Long said.
'They and the entire local community have been great in their support.'
Mr Long said he was overwhelmed at the patience Andrew has demonstrated, undergoing numerous operations and monthly blood infusions.
Andrew currently has rods in his legs and back, the latter being fused which means he will no longer grow.
'It means he will always be a squirt,' both jokingly admit.
Mr Long said he would dearly wish to be able to purchase a new electric wheelchair before Christmas so Andrew could resume one of his passions, swimming, and begin Year 8 at Tannum Sands State High School in comfort next year.
This feat will soon become reality when funds raised during The Observer's Christmas in November Showcase are donated to allow the purchase of the wheelchair.