Teenager’s dream to drive becomes a reality on his 18th birthday
On Wednesday 23 August, the Muscle Help Foundation (MHF) gave a Leicestershire teenager the gift of a lifetime on his 18th birthday by making his dream to drive a reality.
Sam has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy - a severe and life limiting form of Muscular Dystrophy. Sam’s mum wasn’t sure if her son would ever be able to drive so she approached MHF to see if they could help by nominating Sam for a Muscle Dream. The small, family-run charity has one mission - to deliver 657 Muscle Dreams for children and young people with Muscular Dystrophy and allied neuromuscular conditions; that’s one life-changing experience for every muscle in the human body.
Not one to back away from a challenge, MHF’s CEO Michael McGrath enlisted the help of long standing partners the Porsche Experience Centre and Whittlebury Hall to help deliver Sam’s unique experience. Michael also approached Motability to find a vehicle with suitable adaptations that would enable Sam to drive for the first time in his life.
Sam’s Muscle Dream – the 260th arranged by the charity, started with an overnight stay at Whittlebury Hall. Sam then enjoyed a Celebratory Muscle Warrior birthday lunch with his family and members of the experience team. Unaware of what was to follow, Sam travelled to the Porsche Experience Centre at Silverstone for a VIP tour of the facilities, a special afternoon tea and then his first big birthday surprise was revealed – a driving experience in a specially adapted vehicle.
For the first time in his life, Sam took the wheel for an hour-long experience accompanied by one of Motability’s specially trained driving advisors. “I can’t thank you enough”, said Sam’s dad Lee after watching his son reverse and park-up after his lesson. Aerial filming and drone specialists, CineCloud, filmed from above giving the family a lasting memory of the experience.
After this, Sam’s second big surprise was revealed… a thrilling passenger track experience in a Porsche 911. Porsche Driving Consultant Simon Simpson took Sam on the specially designed track for some cornering, drifting and handling at speed, together with a session on the ice hill.
Many charities offer experiences of a lifetime, but what sets MHF apart is how they not only involve the whole family, both before, during and after the experience but also how every Muscle Dream experience is personally hosted by Michael who himself has muscular dystrophy, supported by his wife Sue.
Michael said: “We have been working with Whittlebury Hall and the Porsche Experience Centre for some seven years and I can’t thank them enough for their continued support. But none of it would have been possible without the outstanding commitment of Motability who support people with disabilities in achieving greater independence and for Sam, his dream to drive was fulfilled in a very memorable way. I can’t thank all of the organisations who helped make Sam’s 18th birthday such a wonderful experience – heartfelt thanks also to Racelogic who provided the in-vehicle HD-camera technology in both vehicles and one of our official charity photographer’s Gary Perlmutter Photography for capturing the day.
The impact of what we do can be felt across the whole family. Every Muscle Dream is so very different, but the impact is invariably the same – our beneficiaries’ confidence and self-esteem grows, unforgettable memories are created for the whole family and lasting friendships together with a support network of like-minded individuals are established. Not least, Sam’s family are now all fully-fledged Muscle Warriors – they’re part of our tribe.”
Sam’s dad Lee said: “Thank you to everyone involved. It was the most amazing experience for all of us.”
Motability’s Director, Declan O’Mahony said “When the Muscle Help Foundation asked if we could play a part in Sam's Muscle Dream, we were only too pleased to assist. Driving technology and adaptations are more sophisticated than you might imagine, and some people who think they can't drive because of their disability can with the right equipment. We couldn't think of a better way to celebrate Sam's 18th birthday than playing a part in the Muscle Help Foundation's plan to realise his dream of driving a car.”