Andrew Creel is about to visit a place he’s always wanted to travel — London.
The 16-year-old, who has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, found out he needed to start packing his bags when a representative with the Make-A-Wish Foundation surprised him with the news Tuesday.
At a special pep rally in the gymnasium of Mansfield High School, Andrew was told about the surprise and that he’d be leaving on his journey Saturday.
“I’m very excited,” the soft-spoken Andrew said. “I want to see the Tower of London.”
Andrew’s dad, James Creel, said he was “blown away” when he heard the news.
“Last year was an interesting year,” the elder Creel said. “When most kids turn 16, they start learning how to drive. Andrew had to learn how to drive a powered wheelchair.”
Andrew’s mom, Shana Creel, will be joining them on the weeklong journey.
MAW volunteer Dennis Baird, a “Wish Granter” for the organization, said it’s a great way to start the day.
“Andrew’s reaction was that of pure surprise and joy,” Baird said. “Wishes are great, they give us a warm feeling inside, but it helps so many other ways. Medically it has been discovered that having hope, something to latch hold to, has helped a lot of our wish kids.”
Duchenne muscular dystrophy, or DMD, is a genetic disorder characterized by progressive muscle degeneration and weakness. It is one of nine types of muscular dystrophy.
According to the Muscular Dystrophy Association, DMD is caused by an absence of dystrophin, a protein that helps keep muscle cells intact. Symptom onset is in early childhood, usually between ages 3 and 5. The disease primarily affects boys, but in rare cases it can affect girls.
On its website, Make-A-Wish states that every 38 minutes, it grants the wish of a child diagnosed with a life-threatening medical condition in the United States and its territories.