During lockdown, Ashton Thompson has still been getting his fix of Foundation of Light activities, joining weekly online dance sessions, hosted in partnership with BBC Children in Need.
Despite waiting to hear when he’ll be going to hospital for his third heart operation, Ashton’s dedication has not faltered.
The seven-year-old was diagnosed with truncus arteriosus; a heart condition that he was rushed to hospital with at 8 days old, and has already seen him have two operations.
Side effects of his condition can make him get tired very quickly and also make him very apprehensive about trying new things.
His mother, Sarah enrolled Ashton on the Foundation of Light’s after school dance club at Sunningdale School almost a year ago, in an effort to get him to socialise and exercise a little more.
“Ashton can get tired a lot easier than most children,” she explained.
“Most of the time he will be soaked in sweat but he is very determined. Afterwards he can sleep for up to 12 hours and he used to rely on his cousin Jayden whenever they went anywhere together.’ Sarah added.
“After joining the after-school club, he became a lot more confident; his speech improved and he wanted to join in more activities – he even went to some sessions without Jayden, which he would never have done before.”
The positive impact of the sessions resulted in Ashton signing up to more programmes organised by Sunderland AFC’s official charity.
He would become a member of the Saturday Disability FC team and a regular attendee of school holiday courses.
Sarah admitted she had never heard Ashton shout before he’d played football with the Foundation!
“It’s been amazing seeing his transformation, from shy and nervous little boy, to just running around without a care in the world. He loves to get stuck in. It’s every parents’ dream.”
During the Foundation of Light’s dedicated matchday, Ashton and his dance group “Dance-Versity’ took to the Stadium of Light pitch to perform ‘Greatest Showman’ as part of the charity’s half-time showcase.
Sarah was worried he might be too nervous to perform in front of such a big crowd, but Ashton defied the odds once again.
“I had so many happy tears; it was a very proud moment. Just watching him up there made my heart burst.
“He has overcome so many obstacles and to see him having fun in front of thousands of people was amazing. He still watches the videos today and says 'look that's me'".
Ashton has kept in touch with his dance group during lockdown thanks to the Zoom dance sessions and counts down to it starting as soon as he wakes up every Monday!
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