History Buff Teen with Muscular Dystrophy' Gets to Reenact Revolutionary War
Diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), 14-year-old John McConnell was never able to walk and play like normal kids. But, he never had let his disorder get in the way of learning new things.
John’s muscle strength in his legs was lost a couple of years ago, and he now uses a wheelchair to be able to go out and hang out with his friends. Being unable to do what other children could, John’s DMD has led him to become more passionate about two things: playing the drums and learning about the American Revolution.
What made John extremely fascinated with the American Revolution is its connection to the fight of the underdogs. According to John, the colonists should have never won, but they did anyway. They were able to beat the world’s greatest military at the time. This is why, out of all the things he wanted, he wished to be able to take part in a re-enactment of the American Revolution.
John started to learn how to play the drums when he was in kindergarten. Thanks to his instructor, Anthony Jenkins, he plays well! And, he has even learned how to play well enough to take part in a Revolutionary reenactment. Because Jenkins didn't live in Alaska, he gave his weekly drum lessons to John through Skype. When he isn't teaching John, he is a drumming teacher for children and a drummer for His Majesty’s 10th Regiment of Foot and the Middlesex County 4H Fife. One of his greatest honors, he says, is to teach John, and has enjoyed the weeks they spent together to teach him how to play.
Jackie, John’s mom, has witnessed how the Skype sessions with Jenkins changed her son’s life. In an interview, she also talks about how much her son loved history, and that being granted the wish to come to Boston for the re-enactment made all the difference for John.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation Grants John’s Dream on Patriot’s Day
While he was in his school in Alaska, John was given a special surprise by the Make-A-Wish Foundation. A man dressed as Paul Revere came to him on a horseback and granted John’s Make-A-Wish dream. He will be going to Boston, Massachusetts on Patriots Day to be part of the American Revolutionary War reenactment in Lexington and Concord.
Jordan Salvatoriello, a Make-A-Wish Massachusetts and Rhode Island spokesman, said that John began to show his interest in American history and the Revolutionary War in his social studies class when he was in sixth grade. Since John is from Anchorage, Alaska, he will be traveling to Boston to fulfill his wish.
Photo source: Screenshot from KTUU