A stop at Pizza on Main for some slices and a trip to the local swimming hole with friends — seems like a fairly typical day for a Morrisville teenager on summer break.
But that day was anything but ordinary for Nate Cosgrove. Cosgrove, who will be a junior at Peoples Academy this fall, was able to do all that thanks to a granted wish.
Nate has the genetic disorder Duchenne muscular dystrophy, which causes muscle degeneration and weakness. He was diagnosed when he was 4, and is now wheelchair-bound. For the last five years an electric wheelchair has allowed Nate to get around his home and school without much trouble, but that chair isn’t made for the more strenuous, off-road outings that most teenage boys participate in as they grow up.
“I just wanted to be able to do things with my friends. Go hiking, or take it to a friend’s house,” Nate said.
Cue the Make-A-Wish Foundation. On Monday, June 17, a new track wheelchair was delivered to his home on Maple Street. Make-A-Wish’s Karen Keene worked with Chappell Tractor, a company based in Milford, N.H., to get Nate his new wheels, and he quickly put them to use.
Nate promptly took the chair down to Pizza on Main for a pizza party with his friends. Then, he and his friends headed for the Basin, a local swimming hole located down through the woods several hundred feet off Mud City Loop. That trek wouldn’t have been possible without the track chair, but Nate made it with ease that day.
“He’s learning the chair’s limits, and his as well,” Tom Cosgrove, Nate’s dad, said the week after that test run.
Nate had initially wished for something else — a car he could drive — but the track chair helps him attain much of the same thing: freedom.
Snow and slush typically bog down his regular wheelchair, limiting what he can do outdoors during the winter. And even in the warmer months, the track chair has opened a whole new realm of possibilities for Nate.
“Go hunting, or just do things I couldn’t do with this chair,” Nate explained last week.
“It’s just a little more freedom, and the ability to do more of what he wants,” Tom Cosgrove said.
“Any 16-year old boy wants a little bit of independence,” Keene said. “This particular chair allows him to go on so many more adventures. Fishing, hiking, being able to camp with his family.”
How much does the track chair, and that new freedom, mean to Nate? The teenager, normally shy and reserved, wrapped Keene in a big hug when the chair arrived.
And now there’s more.
When Make-A-Wish began working with Nate two years ago, one of his dreams was a chance to travel to Europe.
That couldn’t happen at the time, but it is happening now. Nate is the manager for the varsity girls soccer team at Peoples Academy, and the younger members of that squad typically travel to Barcelona, Spain, every other year for an international competition. Nate joined the team last Friday on a flight to Spain; they’ll be back later this month.
Nate’s new track chair didn’t make the trip. He didn’t want to risk having the chair damaged or lost on an international flight. Instead, it’s waiting for him in Morrisville, ready to resume a summer of adventures when he gets back.