They said he wouldn't talk, he wouldn't walk...now he's going to Avenged Sevenfold.
Luke is cool. He's sweet, gentle and massively into Avenged Sevenfold. A7X!
He has autism, Cohen's syndrome, night blindness, thyroid problems, a heart defect, has suffered depression, been bullied for being different and called a retard, takes a smorgasbord of meds and has a poor immune system. At six months mum, Amanda, was told he'd never walk or talk. He's been rushed to hospital as a child when no one thought he'd make it.
He did make it. He walks just fine and talks. And loves, loves, loves Avenged Sevenfold. When Given To Live met Luke and his family to surprise him with the news he will be seeing A7X in Cardiff next month he told us how much the band mean to him, how they've helped him so much to get through his depression, during the tough times.
Because being Luke can be tough. He's 18 and will need care his whole life. He will need the world to accept his difference, to love him with all his wonderful difference. He's asked his mum if he'll ever have a girlfriend and that question carries so much for both mother and son, unanswerable and fiercely evocative for both.
Like many with autism Luke can find expressing himself difficult and going to his room to play his music gives him release, escape, freedom, expression. So that's what he does. But he's never got to see a band, let alone his favourite A7X.
It all started with a message from Carl, Amanda's partner, who is a friend and supporter of Given To Live, that asked if we knew that A7X's tour had been announced. We didn't and quite honestly had no idea why we were being asked. Until we spoke with Carl and received an application for Luke. Then it all made sense and the wheels were set in motion.
We had everything in place for Luke back in August but only told him about it yesterday because he struggles with dates and time and mum figured it would be too much uncertainty and excitement for him so far away from the date without being fully able to understand. That and warding off over four months of 'is it tomorrow?'. Close to Christmas made sense. And it's only 33 days to wait. Actually it's 32 now because there's one day crossed of the special calendar we printed for him so he could see the days and make sense of the wait. We've decided the 19th of January 2017 no longer exists, it's A7X day. Luke's going to Cardiff to see A7X day!
And to double down on the excitement one of the support bands, Disturbed, are a favourite of Luke's so he gets two dreams in one day.
We're going to spoil Luke in Cardiff, he's staying in a great hotel and we fully understand that although his number of A7X tees and hoodies is into double figures it's really not enough so we'll be taking him to the merch stand as is only right and proper.
32 days till A7X day and counting...
For the last year the Foo Fam, a Facebook group with members from all four corners of the globe, has been supporting Given To Live.