A FIVE-year-old boy who has been shut up inside his own world due to a rare illness is on the cusp of a new life after £1,300 was raised towards an intelligent robot which could allow him to communicate with the outside world.
Nearly 20 players competed at a 24-hour snookathon over the weekend in a bid to collect the £4,890 needed to buy the gadget for Logan Franco-Franklin.
Thanks to the fundraiser, and a £2,100 donation from the James Dyson Foundation, Logan’s parents Malcolm and Jess are edging closer to their target.
At the age of three Logan, of Fresh-brook, was diagnosed with a rare gene deletion, a condition which only affects 12 people in the world, including his 10-month-old brother Leo.
As a result, he has never spoken a word or taken part in many playground activities.
He also suffers from severe autism.
“It would mean so much to Jess and I as parents to one day hear Logan say mummy and daddy - that’s the dream,” said Malcolm.
“At the end of the day, as a parent, you do what you can for your child.
“This robot was designed and developed by Aldebaran Robotics using NASA technologies and is also being developed as a tool to bridge the gap between an autistic child’s world and our own.
“Our hope is it could help to break down the communication barrier that divides us and also help call him down during a meltdown and to regain control.”
This hope is what spurred on the 41-year-old as the hours went by and exhaustion threatened to get the better of him at the non-stop challenge, hosted at Jesters Snooker Hall, Green-bridge, between 9pm on Friday and 9pm the following day.
“I had had some sleep in the afternoon and it was all right until 3am,” he added.
“I felt really tired until 5.30am but then you get over it and after that it was not too bad.
“There were about 19 players there and it has been heart-warming to see people care like that.
“Logan has never kicked a football or will ride a bike, but we just want to give him a better life.”
The robot would allow Logan not only to learn to respond to certain instructions but try and repeat words, mimic movements, have fun and play games and generally to better understand the world around him.
The family have also put together a wish list of other devices and technology such as interactive floors, which would allow both Logan and his baby brother Leo to lead a more fulfilling existence.