A little 8-year-old boy battling a rare disorder had but one dream in his young life — to become a member of the military.
That dream became a reality on Friday for Rowan Windham, when he was made an honorary member of the Texas National Guard during a special enlistment ceremony, KHOU reported.
Rowan has spent about a third of his life in hospitals, undergoing 71 operations and dozens of blood transfusions in his fight against Shwachman-Diamond Syndrome, which affects his pancreas, gastro-intestinal tract, immune system, blood and bone marrow.
Shwachman Diamond Syndrome does respond to aggressive treatment, but mortalities have been reported according to MyBreathingJourney.com. Even if it is cured, a feature of the disease may last a lifetime.
Despite all that he’s gone through, he always kept his dream alive. The surprise ceremony at Camp Mabry in Austin was enthusiastically attended by hundreds of national guardsmen and women — Rowan’s new comrades-in-arms.
“We’re going to invite him to be an honorary soldier and have over 21,000 airmen and soldiers in his family now,” Brig. Gen. Sean Ryan told the station while displaying a huge grin.
Also in attendance were Rowan’s family and friends, including his father, Brian Windham, a Navy veteran.
“This child has two feeding tubes, one that goes to his heart and one to his stomach,” Brian Windham said. “And every day, he’ll tell you he has the best life ever.”
Ryan also presented Rowan the traditional 124th Cavalry stetson and spurs.
“The spurs are something that you earn based on your courage, your ability to do your job and to move forward,” Ryan said during the ceremony.
Rowan’s first orders will take him to a Seattle hospital.
“To see if I need a bone marrow transplant or not,” Rowan said.
It’s all indicative of his courage, his ability to do his job and to ever move forward.
“Thank you and this is the best day ever of my whole entire life,” Rowan said at the close of the ceremony, bringing everyone in attendance to their feet in applause.
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