By Kyra Gillespie
If you could have one wish in the whole world, what would it be?
For Pakenham teen Ace Bryan it would be to meet his favourite team – the Brisbane Lions.
Thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Ace got to fulfil that dream with an all-expenses-paid trip to Brisbane to watch the Lions take on the Blues from Monday 2 – Tuesday 10 July.
Organised with the help of Jake Weightman, an Officer local and volunteer for Make-A-Wish, Ace not only got to meet his favourite team but he and his parents, Raylene and Warren, got to be part of the Brisbane Lions’ inner sanctum.
He met the entire playing group and spoke to them before their Thursday morning training session, where his favourite player Daniel Rich presented him with his very own Lions guernsey and took him on a tour of the Lions facilities at the Gabba.
“Show them no mercy” was the advice given by Ace, which was received with a roar of laughter and cheering by the team.
On the Friday, Lions Captain Dayne Zorko broke the news that Ace and his mother Raylene would be tossing the coin before the match against the Blues.
Ace even got a pre-game interview on the couch, which was projected onto the big screen.
And on top of that they got to watch the game from the VIP area and head behind the scenes to see the players in the kick rooms.
“It was bloody mind-blowing,” Ace said.
“The players were the most, most, most nice people ever – and we smashed Carlton.”
18-year-old Ace suffers from severe dystonic cerebral palsy.
He cannot communicate verbally but is fully cognitive and converses via an electronic augmentative communication device, which he controls with his pupils.
He is reliant on his electric wheelchair and has limited dexterity in his hands.
“Ace’s days consist of pain and nausea,” Ace’s mum Raylene said.
“He has involuntary muscle spasms and movements where his whole body tenses up.
“Football gives him something to look forward to, something to focus on outside being sick.”
Earlier this year Ace took a turn for the worse; becoming so ill that he required constant palliative care.
That’s when the Make-A-Wish Foundation told Raylene that Ace was eligible for a ‘wish’.
“I didn’t tell him about the wish at first, I just asked him what he would wish for if he could have anything in the world.
“He sat on the question for a few weeks before deciding that his biggest wish would be to meet the Brisbane Lions.
“After that Jake and Tom from Make-A-Wish worked on making it happen, and the Wednesday before the big game we found out we were going.”
For Raylene, seeing the joy on her son’s face meant that her wish was also fulfilled.
“It wasn’t just Ace’s wish, it was my wish too; seeing Ace so happy made all my dreams come true. I actually broke down a few times because it was just so special and so emotional.
“The trip was beyond anything we expected; we thought he would just meet the team once before the game, but it was so much more.
“I can’t thank Make-A-Wish enough.”
Since his big trip up north, Ace has his heart set on moving up to Brisbane.
“It is my home,” he said.
“I would work for them for free.”
But first he has to get through his VCE exams at Narre Warren South P-12 College with the rest of his cohort.