‘People are just so kind’: Child with rare disease meets his hero

It’s not every day you get to meet your hero, especially when that person spends most of her time up in space.

With some help from a local organization, a little boy who was diagnosed with a rare disease met NASA Astronaut Lt. Col Anne McClain on Friday.

Matthew Manley was just two years old when doctors diagnosed him with congenital muscular dystrophy. It’s an inherited condition that impacts the muscles. He started wearing a bi-pap mask to help him breathe shortly after the diagnosis.

Matthew’s mom, Mathea Manley, said it was the mask that first sparked Matthew’s love for space.

Struggling to explain to their child what it was, Matthew’s parents related the mask to what astronauts wear in space.

Manley says their family has followed Anne McClain’s journey for years. When they learned she would be speaking at Friday’s Annual Women of Achievement Luncheon, they posted on Facebook to see if anyone had extra tickets.

It wasn’t long before Spokane’s Wishing Star Foundation learned about their request. The organization helped find tickets for the whole family.

“People are so kind and generous,” Manley said.

For Matthew, who toured NASA Headquarters earlier this year, meeting his hero was something he’ll never forget.

“She was so kind, so wonderful,” said Manley. “It’s been such a cool journey.”

RELATED: From Spokane to space: an interview with NASA Astronaut Anne McClain