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Smiling Dylan leads Team Hope

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Perfect team: Dawn Peart with son Dylan, who will take part in tomorrow’s Appleby Bermuda Half-Marathon Derby as part of Team Hope. (Photograph by Nadia Hall)

Dylan Peart is ready to go. His mother Dawn said: “He would have me get up and go for a drive every day. He always wants to go. He’ll come home from school and say, I’m ready! Let’s go!”

The 11-year-old is a student at Dame Marjorie Bean Hope Academy, a school for students who have severe to profound exceptionalities — and he loves it.

“He wakes up with a smile and says, ‘Good morning, Mommy, get ready school’, with a smile and many days with a song,” Ms Peart said.

The aspiring racer is taking part in tomorrow’s Appleby Bermuda Half-Marathon Derby as part of charity Friends of Hope Academy’s Team Hope.

It’s not his first rodeo — Dylan has participated in the Bermuda Day half-marathon several times, including the full race twice, when he was pushed along by a family friend.

“When the relay came about and Dylan was able to participate, he jumped at the chance to be part of the group and has a fantastic experience each time he takes part in the race.” his mother said.

“Last year Dylan was pushed by some of the Team Hope runners and was thrilled to take the last leg of the race. This gave him the opportunity to wave at all the people along the route and high-five people along Front Street.

“Dylan was all smiles when he came in and he is eager to participate in the relay again this year.”

“This type of event fits Dylan’s personality, because he is a people person, he loves to socialise and wants to be on the go constantly,” she added.

“When he gets off of the bus, the first thing he says is, ‘I want to go in car. Let’s take a drive’. Most days he is not able to go, so he will sit on the front steps of the house and tell me that he is going to watch the traffic.

“This usually keeps him happy cause he is able to see all of the cars and bikes go by and he gets to wave and shout out to people he knows.

“There are few places we go in Bermuda that Dylan is not known by someone and he rarely forgets a face, so he is quick to smile and say hello.”

Like other students at the school, Dylan has multiple exceptionalities. He has a rare chromosomal disorder called Cat Eye Syndrome. He’s hearing-impaired and speech impaired with limited mobility. “He has challenges. He doesn’t speak clearly, but he gets his point across. He signs,” Mrs Peart explained.

Despite his difficulties, his mind is sharp and he has an exceptional memory. It’s very rare for him to want to skip school and his mother loves how nurturing the school and charity have been.

“It’s been tremendous. When I came home [from the hospital] with him, it was like what do we do? Where do I go from here?,” she said. Dylan spent the first five months of his life in the hospital.

“You come home and you’re lost,” Mrs Peart said.

“There’s no manual for bringing up a special-needs child. You just muddle your way through.”

Before DMBHA, the Pearts relied on “a wing and a prayer”. “The options were few. There were times when we were paying my entire salary for someone to watch him, just so I could keep my job.

“We considered moving to another country, but when I found the school it was much better than I dreamt it would be.

“It’s not easy, but we’ve gotten there. Team Hope does a lot. It’s very important — for parents with special-needs kids, when it comes to respite, there’s very little.

“Dylan is happy and well adjusted, for the most part, through his challenges there is always a smile, a hand shake or fist bump for the guys and a hug or kiss for the ladies.

“We are looking forward to Team Hope’s participation in the Bermuda Day half-marathon again this year, where Dylan will have the chance to be an ambassador for Friends of Hope Academy and just be the fun, happy boy that he is.”

Dylan said he likes being in the stroller and seeing all the people. Most importantly, he’s ready to go.

Team Hope member, and reigning Miss Bermuda, Alyssa Rose said she wanted to give her role and title meaning by dedicating real time to the charity.

“I fell in love with the school and since my first visit have been overwhelmed by the dedication of the teachers, nurses, parents and most importantly how incredible the children are,” she said.

Miss Rose has been working with the charity’s board members on their website and social media and planning as part of Team Hope.

She said: “I’ve enjoyed this time tremendously and look forward to continuing this partnership and involving Miss Bermuda contestants or winners with the charity in years to come.

“I will be wearing my Team Hope shirt on May 24 and I couldn’t be more proud to be representing such a worthy cause.”

Team Hope get ready for the Appleby Bermuda Half-Marathon Derby. (Photo by Akil Simmons)