WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (WETM) – Six-year-old Liam Hickey is one in a million, so it is only fitting he had a special experience at Watkins Glen International.
The Hickey family from Van Etten has been through some challenging times. Their son was diagnosed with a rare skeletal disease and has undergone several surgeries at Upstate Golisano’s Children’s Hospital in Syracuse.
“Liam was diagnosed with a rare form of skeletal dysplasia. It’s called Opsismodysplasia. It’s a one in 10 million condition and nobody knows what to do for us. We’re kind of just paving the way as we go,” said Amanda Hickey, Liam’s mom.
Only two people in the United States have this disease. After their Make-A-Wish was granted, this family is looking to pay it forward. Through Make-A-Wish, the Hickey Family traveled to Disney World, the most magical place on earth. They started their own charity, Team Liam: One in a Million, to inspire and raise awareness for kids like Liam, who suffer from rare diseases.
“We’ve teamed up with Make-A-Wish and Watkins Glen International as ambassadors to help raise awareness locally. We’re just trying to fundraise in any way we can,” she said. “We’ve also been nominated as Wish Heroes.”
As a leader for kids like him and through his organization, Liam will be able to provide other kids with cool experiences. At Watkins Glen International, Liam got to lead laps as the pace car during opening weekend.
“All the events for a really fun time we always get to meet a lot of amazing people. We’re just excited to get on that racetrack,” Liam’s dad, Steven Hickey said.
“I’m going on that racetrack!” Liam added.
For Watkins Glen International President Michael Printup, he is grateful to connect with local families and the community.
“It’s a privilege for me personally and professionally, when you have an event like this and Liam’s family come out coming out to have some fun!” Printup added.
How fast did Liam drive?
“Twelve miles per hour!” he exclaimed.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Make-A-Wish has not granted in person wishes, so the kids and families are getting creative.
“Right now, kids are reimagining wishes. We are giving puppies, backyard experiences, room makeovers,” Donna Auria, regional development director for Make-A-Wish, said.
The family is grateful to promote and share their story to inspire other to enact change.
“Thank you Watkins Glen International!” Liam concluded.