Neurofibromatosis is a rare genetic disorder that causes tumors to form on nerve tissue. Max suffers with neuropathy, seizures, failure to thrive, muscle weakness and atrophy, motor tics and a compromised immune system.
“His immune system is almost nonexistent so he’s quarantined and his brother, Haden, can’t go to school any more,” said Cynthia Davis, Max’s mother. “It’s too dangerous for him to be at school with the other kids. We can’t risk him bringing something home to Max.”
Haden, who is 10, has always enjoyed drawing, according to Davis. It started as a coping mechanism for his autism. Now that he’s no longer in school, he’s been accompanying Max to his doctor’s appointments. While in the doctor’s office, people would see him drawing and offered to pay for his drawings.
“One day he decided he was going to set up a table in the yard and put up a sign advertising his art for sale,” Davis said. “I made a quick post on Facebook, ‘Haden’s outside selling art if anyone’s in the area’ and everybody showed up. In 30 minutes, at least 30 people came by. It was fantastic.”
A couple of times a week now, Haden sets up his booth in the front yard and sits there until all of his drawings are sold, which doesn’t take long these days. Haden uses the money he gets for his art to take his brother shopping, mostly for Legos, but he also donates some of the funds to neurofibromatosis research.
Max isn’t the only person that Haden helps. He’s growing out his hair, which is bright red, so it can be donated to cancer patients. He and his mother do Meals on Wheels twice a month. Haden does the deliveries himself and both he and his mother volunteer at Cardinal Healthcare.
“He’s always known about Max’s condition but he’s never known a lot,” Davis said. “Now that he goes to the appointments and listens to the doctors’ prognoses, he’s more aware. That changed everything for him.”
Haden went from having his own room to playing every once in a while with Max to sharing a bedroom with him.
“He won’t leave him,” Davis said. “They are together 24 hours a day. He does everything for Max. It’s really important to him that Max gets all the love, attention and support that he can possible get and this is his way of doing it.”
Haden particularly likes to draw dinosaurs, snakes and Pokémon, but recently he’s been taking requests for different subjects, which his mother said is a good thing because it helps him branch out a little bit. He’s received requests for his art from almost every state and even one from Britain, according to Davis.
“I’m just like, ‘how did this happen?’” Haden said, as he worked on a drawing that was being picked up later in the day. “It makes me feel good because I’m doing something for me and Max.”
Haden meant that he was doing something for him because he got to spend time with Max.
Max has a GoFundMe account at gofundme.com/strength-for-mad-max to help with doctor’s bills and special outings with his family.
Image courtesy of Michelle T. Bernard