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‘Ten foot tall and bulletproof again’: Boy’s hero encounter assuages wait for wheelchair

Email Angus Hopkins' long wait for NDIS wheelchair assuaged by meeting with NRL heroes ABC Radio Brisbane By Jessica Hinchliffe

Updated May 13, 2019 15:21:53

Football player and young boy in a wheelchair. Photo: The Melbourne Storm's Chris Welch organised the weekend for Angus Hopkins. (Supplied: Jody Ezzy) Related Story: Melbourne man's painful year-long wait for wheelchair upgrade Related Story: This is Jonathan, one of the thousands worse off under NDIS Map: Brisbane 4000

The dreams of young Angus Hopkins came true over the weekend as he met his rugby league heroes as part of the NRL Magic Round.

The nine-year-old, who lives with cerebral palsy, spent time with the players on and off the field during the four-day event, as well as being gifted a pair of boots worn by Broncos star Anthony Milford.

Angus came to national attention after his mother was forced to use a wheelbarrow to move him around their Toowoomba property while they fought for a new electric wheelchair from the NDIS.

The purchase of a $26,000 electrical wheelchair has since been organised and Angus should take delivery in early July.

Young fan at the football. Photo: Angus Hopkins spent days with players on and off the field. (Supplied: Jody Ezzy) External Link: Chris Welch tweet

Jody Ezzy said it was a life-changing opportunity for her son to experience the games and meet players.

"Christian Welch from the Melbourne Storm contacted us when he saw Angus's story and invited him to come and see them play," she told ABC Radio Brisbane's Rebecca Levingston.

"Angus had to apologise to him, though, saying, 'I'm so sorry but I'm a Broncos fan'."

The family attended Friday's captain's run with the Storm where Angus watched the players train and later met them on the field.

Young boy with Broncos players Sam Thaiday. Photo: Angus met his favourite player Sam Thaiday in the Broncos changing sheds. (Supplied: Jody Ezzy)

"In the evening we were guests at the Broncos game and were able to go into the sheds afterwards and meet the Broncos players … he was just starstruck."

He also met his favourite player, Sam Thaiday.

"He's such a happy little boy now, walking on air, 10 foot tall and bulletproof again," Ms Ezzy said.

"It wasn't done for media or publicity; there were no cameras — it was just the players talking and spending time with Gus as a mate."

Young boy in a wheelchair with Broncos horse mascot. Photo: Angus met players and the Broncos mascot over the weekend. (Supplied: Jody Ezzy)

'Not just a kid in a chair'

Ms Ezzy said the experience was something the family would not forget any time soon.

"This is a kid who had been kicked down and felt pretty ordinary about people and life.

"For elite athletes to spend time with a little boy and not once feel like he was a charity case or a kid in chair … there are a lot of people who could take a leaf out of these fellas' book. They made his year."

Paralympic athlete Kurt Fernley has also been in touch with the family since hearing their story and wants to meet Angus and lend his support.

"These little things have restored our faith in humanity," Ms Ezzy said.

"The support we have had from people through this whole thing has helped us hold on."

Topics: cerebral-palsy, disabilities, rugby-league, people, health, human-interest, brisbane-4000

First posted May 13, 2019 15:19:41

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