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ValueSpeak: Sacrificing a dream to make a dream come true

Published: Saturday, July 20 2013 3:00 p.m. MDT

Paraplegic Dan Black of Wales recently sacrificed his dream of walking again in order to help make that same dream come true for a 5-year-old stranger.

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Ever since a 2009 cycling accident put him in a wheelchair, Dan Black of Chepstow, Wales, has had one dream.

Walking.

He has adapted to his limitations, but he yearns for the freedom and activity he once had. His mother says he “goes to bed dreaming he can walk and run.” Which is why he was excited to learn about cutting edge stem cell research being done in China, and a treatment that could possibly lead to the reinvigoration of his legs.

Suddenly, his dreams had substance.

But there are two huge barriers looming between Dan and his dream. First, the research is so cutting edge that it may be years before the treatment is an actual, real possibility for him. And second is the most practical of all considerations: money. The procedure would doubtless cost tens of thousands of dollars — maybe more. Such a sum would be difficult to come up with under the best of circumstances.

And these are not “the best of circumstances” for Dan. He lost the use of his legs and his right arm in the accident. He requires around the clock care, so his employment options are limited. His lifestyle is, according to his mother, “horrendous.” Coming up with the money he will need for those treatments — when and if they are available — was a source of great concern to the young Welshman.

Motivated by love and concern for Dan, friends worked hard through a series of fund-raising activities over a period of five years to generate more than 20,000 pounds for the procedure. Dan was overwhelmed by this extraordinary kindness and felt he could really start looking toward the day when he could turn his dream of walking again into a reality.

Then he heard about Brecon.

Brecon is a 5-year-old who also lives in Chepstow who suffers from spastic diplegia cerebral palsy, which severely limits his ability to walk. Dan read a story in a local newspaper about a new surgical procedure being done in the United States that could allow the little boy to walk unaided. But the surgery would require more than 60,000 pounds — money Brecon’s parents were having a hard time raising.

Dan could relate.

“I’m in pretty much the same condition,” Dan told the U.K.’s Free Press last week. “But it appears that Brecon can definitely walk if he gets his surgery, and I can’t right now. So I looked at all that money and I thought, I might as well pass it on to him.”

Dan sounded a little apologetic to those who had donated money for him.

“I’m incredibly grateful to everyone … who has helped me out,” he said. “But this boy needs it more than I do at the moment.”

And so he took his dream — or at least the cash that served as its real-world foundation — out of the bank and handed it over to Brecon’s parents, telling them “it would make me very happy to see the difference made to Brecon’s life.”

Brecon’s parents were overwhelmed by Dan’s generosity.

“It is a phenomenal gift,” Brecon’s mother, Ann, said.

Brecon’s father, Rob, could only shake his head in wonder. “How do you even start saying ‘thank you’ for something like that?” he asked.

For Dan’s part, no thanks are required.

“I wanted to help someone whose life could get better,” he said. “If I can help someone to walk, I will.”

Even if it means sacrificing a dream to do it.

To read more by Joseph B. Walker, please go to www.josephbwalker.com.

Email: jwalker@desnews.com

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