Rare disease sufferer David flown to attend big golfing event gala, meet legend Gary Player
When David Leslie celebrated his 10th birthday in July it was an exceptionally special one – doctors had told his grandparents he would not live past his sixth birthday.
David, who lives in Malabar with his grandparents Abdon and Maureen Leslie, was born with Maroteaux-Lemy syndrome, an extremely rare genetic condition that causes a lack of a crucial enzyme in the body.
The syndrome causes tissues and organs to enlarge and become inflamed or scarred. Skeletal abnormalities are also common.
Last weekend, the little boy took up a special invitation from golfing legend Gary Player to be honoured at the Gary Player Invitational gala event at Sun City.
The Gary Player Foundation, through donations to Wings and Wishes, has played a significant role in funding David’s travelling costs to the Red Cross Children’s Hospital in Cape Town.
Speaking at Cape Recife School yesterday, David said he had enjoyed the weekend very much, but not the flying.
David, who was flying for the first time as his grandfather drives him to Cape Town for treatment, told the pilot that while the takeoff “wasn’t so good” the landing was “much better”.
David was invited into the cockpit to look around after the flight. “Gary Player was old but he was very nice.”
David was asked to recite a poem at the event. “I cried so much,” Inge Human, of Wings and Wishes, said. “David is very close to my heart.
“I am incredibly proud of him. It took some bribing, though, to get him on stage.
“He said he wanted a pepper steak pie beforehand.
“There I was, surrounded by plates of gourmet food and David and I drove to the nearest Engen garage to get him a pie,” she said, laughing.
Maureen said David had practised hard before reciting his poem. It reads: No one looks the way I do I have noticed that it’s true No one walks the way I walk No one talks the way I talk No one plays the way I play No one says the things I say I am special I am ME There is no one rather be Than Me “It took four pies,” David said solemnly.
He seemed unconcerned at receiving a standing ovation afterwards.
Instead, he said, the highlight of his weekend was when he drove the go-karts. “I like going fast,” he said, laughing.
Maureen said as no specialised treatment was available in Port Elizabeth, David had to travel to Cape Town for I would treatment.
Human said: “Since 2013, Wings and Wishes has assisted the family with transport, taking away the burden and stress of worrying how they will get to Cape Town for his life-saving treatment.”
Abdon said his grandson was a real blessing.
“We have seen so many places and been on so many adventures because of him.
“I am very grateful for Wings and Wishes,” he said.