A SCHOOLBOY suffering from a painful skin disease has received thousands of birthday wishes from around the world after his mum said his condition had made him want to “give up” on life.
The world has responded to the story of Rhys Williams, who battles with the pain of epidermolysis bullosa — a rare, life-limiting skin condition that sees him in agony every day.
Rhys is covered in blisters and he unable to walk or use his hands as his skin has fused together. Normally a happy boy attending Sharples School, Rhys has been struggling the past few months and has been left wanting to give up on his fight with the pain, said his devastated mum Tanya.
After she received a heartbreaking text message from Rhys to say he wishes “a butterfly would come and take him away”, Ms Williams contacted The Bolton News to show him he has something to fight for.
We reported her appeal for people to send birthday cards to Rhys in the lead up to his 14th birthday, on September 21.
In just two days, the family has been bombarded with 37 cards, five parcels and more than 2,000 online messages from across the globe.
Ms Williams said: “I have had Facebook messages from Canada, New Zealand, Australia, California and India. I have even had people from Chile telling me Rhys has been on TV there. I just can’t get my head around it, I’m lost for words.
“It has just pulled on so many heartstrings, it’s all about what he has been going through and what he has been feeling. I think it will help him massively, he’s going to absolutely love reading all of these messages.”
When Rhys has received cards in the past, Ms Williams says it changed his outlook: “It showed him that he still needs to fight, that there are people out there who do care and do love him.”
This time, she hopes it can have the same effect.
The appeal even caught the attention of Frank Bruno, the former world heavyweight boxing champion, who penned his own message of support for Rhys, tweeting: “Let’s all get behind Rhys’ family and help put a big smile on his face for his birthday.”
Rhys has also had offers of a holiday to Tenerife with his mum and special theatre performances, among a raft of other surprises.
Ms Williams says she started to realise how far the appeal had reached when, yesterday morning, her breakfast was interrupted by a call from Liverpool Football Club’s Peter Moore.
The chief executive offered free box tickets to her Liverpool-mad son when he read the heartbreaking story.
Closer to his Barrow Bridge home, Bolton Wanderers Football Club has offered Rhys the chance to be a mascot at an upcoming game.
The “overwhelmed” mum added: “They should make a film about this, not Ralph Breaks the Internet, Rhys Breaks the Internet!”
Cards can be sent to 40 Whalley Avenue, Bolton, BL1 5UD.