10-year-old Zaid, who's living with Dravet syndrome, lives in Coventry with his mum, dad and little sister. He loves cars and his wish to be a motorsport engineer was granted in March 2018.
Since he was a baby, Zaid has battled dangerous seizures caused by a rare genetic mutation called Dravet Syndrome. One of Zaid’s seizures could be fatal at any time, so the family are always on alert.
He has autism, limited speech and is a bit wobbly on his feet as a result of the seizures attacking his brain. Zaid is desperate to make friends but finds it hard to communicate with children his own age and mum, Sophie, can tell this frustrates and saddens him.
For a long time, doctors didn’t know what was causing the seizures and Sophie felt very isolated. “When we finally received the diagnosis, I was in shock, but I still thought he would grow up and be independent. Now we know differently.”
But happy-chappy Zaid has learnt to adapt, and his family have too. Zaid loves anything with wheels.
The motion of being in a car helps Zaid to relax, and he loves being around mechanics so his mum, Sophie, often takes him to Kwik Fit. His favourite thing is asking his mum to pop up the bonnet on the car so he can see the engine.
Zaid wished to be a motorsport engineer, so Wishgranter Dan set the family up with a whole day of special behind-the-scenes access to the paddocks at Silverstone, a major race track.
“Zaid picks up every virus under the sun during winter,” mum Sophie explains, “and when his wish day arrived we were worried, as he’d had two seizures in the past few days and wasn’t his usual self.
It was a difficult decision whether we should go, but I’m so glad we did. We don’t often get the chance to go out as a family unit together, and to know that so much time and effort had been put in for Zaid made us feel extra special and took all the stress away.”
When the limo arrived, Zaid was already dressed in the overalls Wishgranter Dan had sent him. Although Zaid didn’t feel well enough to leave his pushchair at the racetrack, his eyes were glued to everything he saw and his fingers were ‘twinkling’ with excitement. “It was great to open his eyes a bit wider and have a completely new experience.”
Sophie adds, “Zaid was treated like a total VIP because everyone knew we were there with Make-A-Wish. All the engineers, staff, drivers…everyone went out of their way to talk to Zaid on his level and shake his hand, and they didn’t just look at him as a sick kid, which means a lot.
“We were introduced to all the drivers and head engineers at each garage. One of the drivers gave Zaid a bright yellow Dunlop hat and his autograph. The next garage gave him a t-shirt and a mini scaletxric car.
"We watched them taking the wheels off cars, refuelling them and then zooming off again. The smell of the cars, the petrol and the hot wheels and the hustle and bustle of the technicians and engineers was a real buzz and a sensory experience which was brilliant for Zaid who is a sensory seeker.
“Everyone there was so relaxed, but for us it was such an adrenalin rush! It was just amazing and everyone was so kind. When it was over, Zaid climbed into the limousine and fell asleep almost immediately!
“Although Zaid lives in his own world, he enjoys experiences like this in his own way, and it allows us to connect with him.
It’s difficult to tell whether Zaid still thinks about the day in the same way as us, but we like to think it will have a lasting effect on him. I wish we could replay the day over and over again, we had the time of our lives on Zaid’s One True Wish.”