Josiah Viera is a typical six year old boy. Josiah Viera loves baseball and got the once and a lifetime chance to play with the Philadelphia Phillies. Josiah Viera though is anything but typical. Standing only 27 inches tall and weighing just 15 pounds, Josiah Viera is an extraordinary boy.
Two months after Josiah was born his mother noticed that he wasn’t gaining any weight so her doctor referred her to a specialist, and just after his first birthday he was diagnosed with Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria syndrome.
Progeria is a rare genetic disease that causes accelerated aging in children. In an interview with ESPN, his mother, Jennifer, said “It’s hard to explain being a mom or a parent and knowing that potentially you’re going to outlive your child,”
Josiah, like most boys his age, really wanted to play baseball. Understandably his mother was concerned for his health and well being, but eventually she gave in. Josiah played on his local team but was hospitalized after his first game after suffering a series of mini-strokes.
Josiah was openly accepted by his team mates, and they even threw him a surprise birthday party! And at that birthday party they also granted another of his wishes – to see the Philadelphia Phillies play! The team surprised him with 4 tickets to a game!
Josiah’s favourite player, Ryan Howard, was on hand to meet the young boy prior to the game. He presented the boy with a Phillies jersey and also gave him his bat and batting gloves that he had used during practice the day before.
When Josiah showed up to play his 4th and final t-ball game of the season, word had spread about him and over 1000 people showed up to see him play. Afterward, his mother said “I have had lots of people come to me since then, adults, little kids, teenagers who play softball and baseball, and say that he’s their hero because he didn’t let his condition stop him,” Jennifer said. “He was placed here to touch people’s lives.”
He certainly has, and he is an inspiration to adults and children alike. As are his teammates who welcomed him with open arms and who looked past his medical condition to embrace him as a team mate.