Ballymena boy Ethan McClean has had a birthday to remember after receiving almost 2000 cards from well-wishers across the globe.
Ethan was diagnosed with the life-limiting illness Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy at the age of 18 months.
His parents, Andy and Yvette McClean, started a social media campaign to get as many birthday cards as possible sent to Ethan.
Yvette explained: “The reason we would like to do this is two fold. Firstly, the only post Ethan gets to the house is brown envelopes - medical appointments and lots of them. We would like to change his perception that the only post he will get is appointments.
“Secondly, it looks like Ethan is heading for double knee surgery late this year or early next year to have both knees plated and pinned. We know that six weeks off his feet could have serious detrimental effect on his ability to stay on his feet long term.
“Ethan’s only worry about his operation is that the Giants will see his legs in cast. Head coach Adam Keefe has not only accepted a challenge of a 5Km running race with the Team but has invited Ethan to come along and meet the Giants team.”
The Gracehill Primary School pupil turned 9 on September 14, with cards arriving from as far and wide as South Africa and America.
Meanwhile, a special reception was held at the Mayor’s Parlour in Ballymena to mark the occasion.
Mid and East Antrim Mayor, Cllr Paul Reid said, “I read about Ethan’s story and was moved at how inspirational both he and his family are. I wanted to help make Ethan’s birthday special so was thrilled when his family agreed to come along to have some birthday cake with me and my wife in his hometown of Ballymena.
“I gave Ethan a birthday card and was amazed at just how many responses he has got and from all around the world. I’m extremely proud to have met Ethan and his family, he’s a real wee character and it’s been an honour to celebrate with him on his actual birthday as well.”
Yvette added: “We’re delighted to have had so much support from all over world. We really wanted to make this a special birthday and decorate the walls of our house with cards, and with almost 2000 of them we can certainly do that.
“Ethan has had a really good day and it’s been lovely to meet the Mayor and have the support from Mid and East Antrim Borough Council to help raise awareness about DMD and really give Ethan some fabulous memories.”
Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy is a muscle wasting disorder that has a 100 percent fatality rate, because there is currently no cure.
The family have started a running group called ‘Team McClean’ and have a Facebook page with all the details of their next events coming up.
To find out more just search for #TeamMcClean on twitter or Facebook.