An 8-year-old Nebraska boy, battling a rare disease, had a dream of flying like his favorite superhero, Iron Man. And for one day, that dream came true.
Max Vertin, now known as “Iron Max,” was given a chance to ride the air at an indoor skydiving facility in Colorado, thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Vertin suffers from Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a genetic condition that primarily strikes boys and causes muscular degeneration that gets progressively worse.
When Max was first diagnosed with the condition doctors said he would not be able to walk by the time he was nine years of age. In preparation for the eventuality his parents are currently getting him measured for a wheelchair, although his legs remain sturdy.
On Tuesday, however, he got to don an Iron Man costume and float in 100-mph winds.
After his day playing Iron Man, Max traveled home in a limousine with his family and had a special party courtesy of the Make A Wish Foundation. The organization provides ‘wish experiences’ to thousands of children every year who are diagnosed with a life-threatening medical conditions.
“This is awesome. This is the break we needed,” older sister Lexi said. “It’s nice not be at the doctor’s and getting them shots. We can just have fun.”
“He deserves a few days to just be a kid,” mom Betty Vertin said. “I have him every day and we laugh and we play and we have so much fun. So I am happy. It’s a good day. I guess it just kind of all came crashing down on me.”
Max’s two younger brothers suffer from the condition as well. Rowan, 5, also took a ride in the wind tunnel, while 3-year-old Charlie played nearby.
But an upbeat Mrs Vertin explained how much the charity’s work had helped: “It’s just been wonderful to have all of us together and not, I know, I can’t help it, I’m sorry, they’re happy tears. They’re happy tears.”
Because the disease eventually strikes the muscles of heart, patients often did not survive beyond their teenage years until recently. Advances in care have extended survival into the 30s and beyond, with some patients living to their 40s or 50s, the Muscular Dystrophy Association said on its website.