A DREAM came true for a schoolboy who faces a future in a wheelchair as he stepped out on to the pitch with his idols.
Nine-year-old Matthew Brettell has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, and while he is striving to keep himself independent through physiotherapy and medication, it is likely he will need to use a wheelchair all the time by the time he hits 12.
The Thorney Close Primary school pupil walked out of the tunnel of Saturday’s game between Sunderland and Crystal Palace alongside Black Cats captain John O’Shea.
During his family’s visit to the Stadium of Light, the team signed a canvas, which will now take pride of place on his bedroom wall.
Matthew’s parents Maria, 35, and Gavin, 40, are aiming to raise £75,000 to adapt their Thorney Close home so he can get around for himself in the long-term.
A Government grant will meet £30,000 of the bill, but the Brettells are working to collect the £45,000 extra needed to cover the cost of an extension where their garage now stands, creating a bedroom and bathroom for Matthew on the ground floor.
Both he and Daniel had a fantastic time - they did so much to make him feel a part of it and involved in it all.MUm Maria Brettell
Around £12,500 has been collected so far for the Matthew’s Milestone appeal.
The design is being drafted up by Fitz Architects, which is waiving its fees on the job, with the campaign backed by Pennywell-based Hope4Kidz.
The charity organised Matthew’s appearance at Saturday’s match, with his brother Daniel, seven, accompanying him on the day.
Maria said: “He’s just over the moon.
“Both he and Daniel had a fantastic time - they did so much to make him feel a part of it and involved in it all.
“They did so much hard work, it was brilliant.
“He also had his photo taken and it’ll be a great memory for him.”
Matthew is due to undergo checks in June, which will help doctors understand how his condition has progressed and what can be done to give him the best chance of walking for as long as possible.
He has spent two years on steroids to keep his strength up, but they have side affects, while he has hydrotherapy every two weeks during term time, regular physio sessions and a programme of exercises.
“He’s up and down emotionally, especially because sometimes he realises he can’t keep up with his peers who are the same age,” said Maria, who is also mum to Naomi, 17.
“It’s hard for him to step back and he loves football, but he can’t manage like others, so he plays in small groups.
“He’s using his powered wheelchair a bit more at school now so he can keep his energy so he can play. He has good days and bad days.”
Gordon Littlewood, landlord of The Mallard, in Seaham, and a team of bikers will ride around England in September with the aim of raising £10,000.
The next fund-raising event will be a ladies’ night on Sunday, May 3, at Plains Farm Workingmen’s Club, with tickets £6 via Hope4Kidz on 534 7788 or Maria on 07899 738 761.
Donations can be made via www.justgiving.com/Maria-Brettell.