AN INSPIRATIONAL borough youngster who suffers from a rare muscle wasting condition put his Birmingham City loyalty to one side for a day at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium.
Five-year-old Jack Gauder, from Shirley, was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) in October 2013, shortly before his third birthday – though this didn’t prevent him from snapping up the chance to meet Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere.
The condition affects one in 3,500 people nationwide, has no cure, comes with a life expectancy of just 18 years and only affects boys.
Jack’s condition means he struggles to get dressed in the morning, finds it impossible to walk long distances and requires assistance when twisting or lifting objects.
Described by his mother as a cheerful child who possesses a beautiful smile – Jack witnessed Arsenal grab a late winner against Leicester City in the company of cousin Louie and parents – mum Emma and dad Matthew.
Since his diagnosis in 2013, Jack – with the help of his parents – has managed to raise over £50,000 for the Duchenne Breakthrough Research Fund.
Proud mum Emma told The Observer that they couldn’t have asked for better treatment during their day at Arsenal.
She added: “Arsenal were fantastic, it was a really enjoyable day and helped us as a family escape DM which is just a horrible condition.
“They treated us like VIPs and Jack (Wilshere) was very friendly – though he didn’t except Jack’s offer of swapping to support the blue team as our Jack is a Birmingham City fan.
“We all know life is going to get tougher for us as a family but we value these days out – it meant a lot that Jack Wilshere gave us the opportunity to take our minds off things, even if for a short while, and just have a good time.”
Emma said that her and her husband’s lives was turned upside down when Jack was diagnosed with DMD.
She added that caring for her son is like a full time job – though she’s never known anything different.
Emma added: “Jack has physio twice a day and sleeps with night splints on his feet to keep them at a 90 degree angle.
“He deals with the situation so well and our aim is to raise awareness and fund a cure for Jack and other boys with DMD.
“We’re hosting various events to raise money to help find a cure and already have completed golf days, runs, swims, coast to coast events and have more planned.
“Jack needs help to go to the toilet, getting dressed and moving up and down the stairs – it can be physically hard to move him around at times.
“He loves Star Wars and Lego but in general he’s just a cheeky chappy that loves the outdoors and thinks he’s great at running.
“Obviously he struggles to keep up with others but he lives life with a smile and has a great character.”
Wilshere, who has been supporting Muscular Dystrophy UK for almost a year, said he has had the opportunity to meet some incredible families since becoming involved.
He added: “Meeting little Jack was really special – he is great kid.
“We chatted together, shared football tips, and I did my best job to convert him from a Birmingham FC fan, to an Arsenal supporter.
“Living with a muscle-wasting condition can be challenging – if I can do anything to make a difference, I will.”