Schoolboy With Agonising Skin Condition Receives More Than 10,000 Birthday Cards
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A schoolboy who has a life-limiting skin condition that causes him chronic pain has received more than 10,000 cards from across the globe.
Rhys Williams, from Bolton, UK, touched the hearts of thousands after his mum shared his story in the hope of showing him that people care.
Since birth the 13-year-old has suffered from epidermolysis bullosa, which triggers painful skin blisters and sores, and has even caused his fingers to fuse together. His skin and internal tissue can blister from the slightest knock, resulting in open wounds. He has to use a wheelchair to move, as the skin has fused at the back of his legs, meaning he can't straighten them.
He wears bandages to protect his skin, but they must be changed three times a day to prevent infection. He also has to be fed through a tube, as solid foods could cause his gullet to blister.
Tragically, the hardship caused by the condition became so much that Rhys told his mum he'd had enough of life.
In a bid to cheer him up, his mum, Tanya, put out an appeal for cards ahead of his 14th birthday on 21 September. However, she never anticipated the response that would follow, with more than 10,000 cards, parcels and hundreds of online messages pouring in within a matter of days. The chief executive of Liverpool Football Club, Peter Moore, even called up to offer Rhys free box tickets.
Tanya said the outpouring of love from across the world has done the trick, leaving Rhys smiling from ear to ear.
She said: "He is loving it, he is so happy. It restores your faith in humanity.
"I've had thousands of messages on Facebook, I try and answer each one. It's fab.
"All the cards are just as nice and kind as the next. His favourite present so far has got to be his gaming headphones and Xbox game from someone in LA.
"He has just had a card from the Doctor Who production, he's had cards from football clubs, supermarkets..."
She continued: "Rhys has not been able to wipe the smile off his face. He's been so happy.
"Everything is in the living room at the moment. Twenty-one boxes were delivered on Saturday and I've only just been able to shut my front door.
"We have received about 7,000 cards just today (Saturday). We got three-and-a-half thousand on Friday. I can only just see my living room floor.
"He is opening each card and reading it, and he's got his friend opening them too. He is taking his time with each one which is why it is taking so long."
When Rhys was born, there was no guarantee that he would live until his teens. There is no cure for the inherited skin disorder, with treatment focusing on pain relief - however, the gifts and wishes he has received from far and wide have had a huge impact on the family.
Tanya said: "It's gone worldwide. He's been on the telly in Chile. He got a card from Qatar today and loads from America. It's just gone everywhere.
"I just want to say thank you. That's all I can really say at the moment, I'm so overwhelmed by it all."
If you want to send Rhys a card, Banter Cards Shop will print one for you free of charge.