Sometimes sports are more than just games. Sometimes they are more than winning, losing or trying your best. Sometimes sports give people hope, a reason to be excited, a reason to stay positive.
That’s what’s happening for a family in Parkville, and one boy in particular, who is about to get the experience of a lifetime.
Vaughn Barrier II is smiley, lively, energetic, like any 4-year-old. But this little guy and his family have been through more than they ever imagined. Vaughn suffers from one of the rarest diseases on the planet.
“It’s like a lottery that you never want to win,” said his father.
A year ago, little Vaughn was diagnosed with hypomyelinating leukodystrophy 6. It’s a progressive brain disease, with no cure, that affects his mobility and ability to speak.
“There’s 32 cases in the world and three, including Vaughn, here in Maryland,” said Vaughn’s mother Khalilah.
The condition has taken a toll on him. It’s hard for Vaughn to walk. And he’s never been able to talk. He uses a special device to communicate.
“I know he gets frustrated because he can’t run like other kids do,” said Khalilah. “And if he can’t say what he wants he can get a little frustrated, but he’s just a happy little boy.”
And he's a huge basketball fan. He’s been to a few NBA games, but there’s one player he’s always wished to see.
“It doesn’t matter what he’s doing. He could be watching another sport, he could be playing with toys. If he sees the Golden State Warriors symbol or Stephen Curry walk in the room or on TV, he goes crazy,” his father (also named Vaughn) said.
Now he’ll get his chance to see him in person. The Make-A-Wish Foundation is sending Vaughn’s entire family to Oakland, California to watch the Warriors take on the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday night.
Vaughn’s collection of Warriors gear is endless. He has hats, tote bags, lunch bags, shirts, shoes and, of course jerseys. After Wednesday, when his head hits his Steph Curry pillow, he’ll be able to dream about his wish that came true.
“We want to be able to create a life-long memory for him through the pictures, through the video and constantly be able to reinvent the trip for him,” Vaughn’s dad said.
“I know he’s not able to do certain things that other kids are able to but he’s more special than others and I hope he has the best time,” added Vaughn’s brother Zyan.
“I think us just having a rough couple of years, just a lot of knockdowns, it will be a nice pick-me-up for the family,” Vaughn’s mom said. “Just for everybody be together having a good time, seeing him smile just makes the rest of us happy.”
The Barriers arrived in Oakland on Tuesday. They say they plan to get to Oracle Arena, home of the Warriors, early to watch shoot around.
Vaughn currently sees specialists at Kennedy Krieger Institute. Their genetic counselor says the Barriers are one of the strongest family units she’s ever worked with. They don’t let Vaughn’s limitations impact every moment of every day.
No question, Wednesday's game will have a positive impact for quite a while.
If you'd like to help grant wishes for children like Vaughn, Make-A-Wish Mid-Atlantic's 2017 Walk for Wishes Baltimore raises awareness and funds to make local wishes come true. For more information on how you can register or donate, click here.