SAM Uchytil has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and he holds a place in the hearts of people who were once strangers and are now “more like family”.
One of them – Giuseppe Vitale – asked for donations to be sent to the Friends of Sam association instead of towards his 90th birthday presents.
Mr Vitale, president of the Three Saints Brisbane Committee, said he “needs nothing” and Sam “needs so much help”.
The committee plans tirelessly each year for the Feast of the Three Saints – Alfio, Cirino and Filadelfo – in May.
Since 2009 they have given more than $10,000 from the festivities to the 13-year-old Our Lady of the Angels primary school, Wavell Heights, student and his family of Geebung.
Thanks to the most recent donation following the May 5 feast day, Sam has acquired an electric wheelchair.
Donations have also allowed necessary modifications to the family’s vehicle to accommodate the wheelchair.
“It’s really great to have help to buy my electric wheelchair and to convert the van because I need them but they are very expensive,” Sam said.
“It makes me feel happy that people are so kind.”
Sam’s Mum Kelly Uchytil said such kindness in years past has assisted with a mobility scooter and an electric hoist for hydrotherapy.
“The financial weight of having a child with DMD is a burden that weighs heavily on us as individuals, as a couple and as a family,” she said.
“It is difficult to find words that adequately express the gratitude that we feel – it just doesn’t seem to convey it appropriately.”
Mrs Uchytil said her son was “so excited” about the electric wheelchair and told her he “won’t have to try so hard”.
“Those words impacted my heart deeply,” she said.
“I considered just how hard that little warrior has to try each day to do the countless things that we all take for granted.
“The electric wheelchair means freedom and it helps to reduce the ever widening gap between Sam’s abilities and those of his peers.”
Mrs Uchytil and Carmelina Vitale (nee De Angelis), Giuseppe Vitale’s daughter-in-law, met in 1986 when they began schooling at Mt Alvernia College, Kedron.
The friendship continues “to this day” Mrs Vitale said and “now expands to the extended families who share the cherished relationship”.
“We are able to experience firsthand how the donations have helped and will continue to help Sam and his family,” Mrs Vitale said.
The Feast of the Three Saints also coincides with Sam’s birthday each year, making the celebrations more profound.
This year’s feast day included Mass at Holy Cross Church, Wooloowin, celebrated by Director of the Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office Scalabrinian Father Maurizio Pettenà, Vicar for Clergy Fr Michael McCarthy and Springfield parish priest and Three Saints Brisbane Committee member Fr Mauro Conte.
An estimated 2500 people attended, hundreds of whom took part in a prayerful street procession with the statues of the Three Saints.
Saints Alfio, Cirino and Filadelfo, who were brothers, were martyred in Lentini, Italy, in 253.
DMD is a fatal disorder that progressively weakens the body’s muscles.
Sam’s story and brave attitude first featured in The Catholic Leader in 2008.
To assist Friends of Sam in their fundraising go to www.friendsofsam.org.au