BETHLEHEM — David Bloom, a local 15-year-old boy who attends Bethlehem Central Middle School, looked content as he sat beside his adoptive mother, Amie, smiling as he ate a dark chocolate cookie on their living room sofa.
For a few moments, the room was filled with a comfortable silence as David continued enjoying his treat. Positivity radiated around the room on this late June afternoon but David never directly spoke up for the interview, electing to converse with his mother with a few barely-audible words instead, with whom he felt more comfortable. Hence, Amie spoke on his behalf.
Amie explained that David has a genetic condition called Dup15q, where his 15th chromosome was duplicated. It has caused autism-like symptoms, affecting his social-communicative skills and even inducing seizures. Having had it his whole life, Amie said that he had first been acknowledged as “globally developmentally-delayed” by the time he was only a year old, indicating that his cognitive and physical development were slower than usual. His genetic condition was eventually confirmed when he was around six or seven, said Amie, after they factored in the seizures David had for an effective diagnosis.
At the time of his diagnosis, Amie said that there was no information about this neurodevelopmental disorder but in recent years, there have been clinics in cities like Boston and New York City to address it. She added that there are multiple children in Bethlehem who have the same disorder but it is on a spectrum “where some children are not affected at all while others are very developmentally-affected, like having trouble talking and walking.”
In David’s case, Amie said that he can actually speak but often chooses not to as his communication ability is not strong when interacting with others. But when he does feel like talking, he could “talk your head off and very often, it’s very repetitive,” according to Amie.
But despite his situation, David possesses a huge heart and an ambitious goal within — he wants to raise $10,000 this year.
He is the de facto face of David’s Dream Team, a local fundraiser for Make-A-Wish, and they are having a fundraising event at O’Slattery’s on 318 Delaware Ave. in Delmar on Saturday, June 22 from 2 to 5 p.m. Tickets are $15 at the door. Make-A-Wish is a non-profit
organization that literally grants children with critical illnesses, conditions or afflictions a wish such as travel or meeting a celebrity, for instance.
The event will feature live music from acts like Maddy Hicks and Rock Voices; family-friendly entertainment like magician Jim Snack, face painting, and a tattoo/craft table; and food and beverages by O’Slattery’s itself. According to Amie, this is the first time O’Slattery’s has hosted a fundraiser.
David’s goal is for the hopefully-raised $10,000 to go back to Make-a-Wish so that it can help another child with a critical health condition to have their own wish granted. David’s selfless nature stemmed partially from how Make-a-Wish had already granted his own wish.
When David was 12, Amie had applied to Make-a-Wish for her son. While Dup 15q is not a terminal illness, it still qualified as a serious disorder. For David, his dream had long been to visit Disney World in Florida, which became true in April 2016. “David’s three passions in life are LEGOs, Mickey, and Make-A-Wish,” Amie said. “And when his wish was granted and we got to fly out to Disney World for a week, it changed his life. We had the time of our lives in Disney and it was way more than I ever expected.”
Amie provided two photo albums, which featured many photographs of their time at Disney World, including smiling and posing with figures like Mickey Mouse and Buzz Lightyear.
“And he’s wanted to give back to Make-A-Wish ever since,” Amie said.
She added that David’s Dream Team has walked for Make-A-Wish in the past few years, including having raised $5,000 in 2018.
For 2019, David also wants to raise money in memory of Amie’s niece, Samantha, who was 17 and living in California when she passed away from cancer just a month ago.
“We want to donate all the money raised this year in her memory to Make-A-Wish,” Amie said.
While David’s dream of going to Disney World has been granted, Amie said that his next goal is to visit a LEGO store in Manhattan, referring back to how he also has an affinity for that brand — he has visited the LEGO store at Crossgates Mall in Albany already. To help finance that trip, David has been mowing local lawns since last year.
“He has earned around $320 so far and lawnmowing is easier for him as a job because it’s very routine and it’s a lot of repetitiveness,” Amie said.
Amie related David’s experiences and hopes to how he does not let his condition hinder him from enjoying life. “It’s about finding your path even if you have limitations. I think that when people meet David, they don’t see all he has to offer as there are not a lot of 15 year olds who work to earn their own money or give back to a cause,” she concluded. “The fundraisers we’ve had and will have later this month are very driven by David. It also helps that he has such a supportive community around him.”