As his condition gradually steals his independence, Sunil must continually get used to allowing others to help him. His wish for a new PlayStation 5 enables Sunil and his brother, Rav, to play and bond together. With Rav holding the controls and Sunil directing him, they make quite the partnership.
Sunil is a witty young man, with a shining smile, who loves a joke and is known for his wise cracks. His wit is matched by his style with his eye for expensive taste. Sunil is also a keen sportsman and enjoys playing tennis and basketball. However, his condition now makes competing in those sports impossible, so he’s substituted them with watching films, TV shows and playing board games.
Despite inheriting his glowing personality, Sunil also inherited spinocerebellar ataxia type 2 from his father - a progressive condition that affects co-ordination, balance and speech. Sunil was diagnosed when he was 10 after he began to regularly trip over or fall. He also started falling behind academically – despite being exceptionally bright.
His symptoms worsened rapidly until his mum, Sindy, noticed that when she called Sunil’s name, his eyes would lag behind the movement of his head.
Sindy recalled: “I brushed it under the carpet until on one day I picked him up from his tutor and they said Sunil was carrying a drink and was spilling it everywhere. Then, I had to admit that I had noticed things weren’t right.
“For him, it's like trying to walk in a straight line on a moving ship.”
Sindy and her family have had to face a hard reality since Sunil’s diagnosis: “Last November he was coming out his lift and looked at me and said, ‘I can’t walk.’ It broke my heart. It’s like dealing with something where the light is slowly dimming. He once told me he already felt dead. It never leaves you hearing that.
“There are always days that it’s too much. The goalpost moves regularly. Some knocks are harder to digest. Sunil is now nil by mouth so he can’t eat with us and it’s a double-edged sword. Do we let him see us eating or let him sit alone and feel left out?”
Despite Sunil’s gradual physical decline, he’s still in full control of his mind – something his family do not take for granted. Sunil went to mainstream school, and before lockdown restrictions, was still attending college.
Sindy said: “He is surrounded by a lot of love. Day to day the love gets us through. We want to feel we did everything we could for his happiness.”
Covid-19 not only stopped Sunil from going to college, but restrictions meant that his wish had to change from meeting the cast of his favourite show, EastEnders. However, these unfortunate circumstances opened the opportunity for Sunil to immerse himself in his passion for gaming and he wished to have the all-new PlayStation 5.
Sindy, shared: “When Make-A-Wish got in touch, they said the idea had to come from Sunil. Sunil has always liked gaming; we bought him a PS4 when it came out, but his disability made it hard to game. But we saw online that a dad had adapted a controller for his disabled children, so we bought an adaptor for Sunil’s console.”
So, Sunil’s Wishgranter, Erica, worked with our brilliant supplier Ebuyer to get Sunil an upgrade of the elusive brand new PS5 console and it didn’t disappoint! Together, we were able to give Sunil a PS5 console, gaming headset, a new TV and vouchers to spend on accessories and games of his choice.
Sindy happily reflected: “When the PS5 arrived, we didn’t realise they were like gold dust. We took him into the family room and had an opening ceremony. It all just made sense to have a PS5. He was overjoyed. We cannot thank you enough. Sunil was made up!
“His brother Rav holds the controller to help his brother game. They play Fortnite and Rocket League and want to get Minecraft. Everything happens for a reason – when Sunil was younger, he wanted a sibling and now Rav supports Sunil.”
On a video call with us, Sunil managed to say a sentence near the end of the call, and of course used the opportunity to joke: “Ravi steals it and plays it!”
Sindy concluded: “The whole wish process from start to finish gives us that light to make us happy in a very dark situation. Things like this in your home just make you happy.”