TEENAGER Joe Green, who has a life-threatening heart condition, is going on the holiday of a lifetime - thanks to a Calderdale businessman.
Fourteen-year-old Joe, a pupil at Hipperholme and Lightcliffe High School, leaves for Disney World in Florida later this month with his parents Adele and Matthew and siblings Niall, aged 10, Tom, nine, Lucy, six, and Claudia, three.
For Adele and Matthew, who met when they were pupils at Brighouse High School, the chance to go to Florida with their children is a dream come true.
Sports-mad Joe suffers from the congenital defect coarctation of the aorta (COA for short). His aorta is twisted which prevents blood flowing properly around the lower part of his body and has led to him getting type 1 diabetes. He suffers from shortness of breath, tires easily and has to watch what he eats.
Five years ago he underwent lifesaving surgery at the children’s heart unit in Leeds and will face another operation in the next 18 months.
Despite fears over his health, Joe is determined to lead as normal a life as possible and, although his consultants don’t advise it, he takes part in sport and plays for Siddal RLFC.
Adele, aged 34, said: “Joe is registered disabled and is in and out of hospital every month.
“He has daily insulin injections and has to watch his blood pressure - but despite that he is cheerful and takes it all in his stride.
“It’s tempting to wrap him cotton wool and not let him do anything but Matthew and I want him to lead as full a life as possible.”
Joe was eight when his condition was diagnosed. He kept blacking out and was constantly tired. He underwent surgery to put a patch on his aorta but, as he grows, he will need another operation to replace in the near future.
“It is hard on the whole family and the other children have to fit in with Joe. We have not been able to go away as a family for years and we are thrilled that we are going to Florida.”
The family’s dream holiday has come about through the generosity of Adele’s big-hearted boss, Tony Abbott, who is managing director at the Reactiv Group based in Elland.
At the company’s annual conference and ball, he surprised Adele, who works as HR manager at the company, and 34-year-old Matthew by saying he was going to make the family’s wish for a dream holiday come true.
“My number one wish was that someone would find a cure for Joe’s condition but I know that this is not possible.
“So when I was asked at work to write down my dream I said a family trip to Florida while Joe is still young and relatively healthy enough to enjoy it.”
Matthew, who teaches sport and leisure at Shipley College, said the couple were lost for words when Mr Abbott called them on stage at the conference and handed them an envelope containing flight tickets, hotel accommodation and passes for Disney World and Universal Studios.
He said: “We were both in tears and overwhelmed by Tony’s kindness. It took days to sink in. We’ve looked at a family holiday in the past but it was always out of our price range.
“Now we are going and the children are counting down the days and are so excited.”
Matthew said Joe’s condition was similar to that of footballer Fabrice Muamba who suffered a cardiac arrest during a match at White Hart Lane in March. Mr Abbott, who is originally from London, was at the game and said it had a profound effect on him.
The Green family are opposed to the closure of the heart unit in Leeds and have been campaigning for it to stay open.