(KNOXVILLE) WATE - A young Knoxville boy with a rare genetic disorder is living his life to the fullest.
Brady Fine is prematurely aging, but his daily struggles aren't stopping him from achieving his dreams.
This week, the Knoxville Police Department made Brady an honorary member of the SWAT team for his birthday. The surprise happened at school, where the special operations squad took Brady on a ride to their training facility. He got to learn how to shoot with rubber bullets, ride in a police car and check out a helicopter. He even got a personalized cookie cake to celebrate his 11th birthday.
The celebration made Brady feel special, because some days can be difficult for him. He has a rare type of Progeria, known has Hutchinson-Gilford Syndrome.
"Only about 20-30 people have it and that includes 11 other kids worldwide who have this disorder,"said Dr. Peeden.
Dr. Peeden and Megan Buckner work in the rare diagnosis clinic at East Tennessee Children's Hospital. They worked tirelessly for a year to help find Brady's diagnosis by working with medical experts around the globe.
"Lipodystrophy means that his fat cells don't work right,"said Dr. Peeden.
"That's why I'm a little bit more thin then most,"Brady added.
Frequent headaches, hunger and delicate skin are just some of the struggles, but Brady isn't letting that get in the way of his dreams. He's been to Disney World, rode with a motorcycle club and met Tennessee sprint champion Christian Coleman.
"I feel like it's really amazing that someone that can do a thing like this just wants to talk to me,"said Brady.
His mother Jessie is proud of her son.
"His heart is so big. To watch him handle the things that he does and he's so appreciative of everything and he's so forgiving to kids and people that don't understand. He shows grace,"said Jessie Fine.
It took several years for the Fine family to find answers for Brady's illness. While the diagnosis gives them more of an understanding, the uncertainty of his rare condition is hard to deal with at times. Their faith helps encourage them and give them strength.
The hospital team says heart issues and premature aging are possible, but that doesn't mean Brady can't live a full life.
"He is a special kid. He is full of sweetness and light,"said Dr. Peeden.
Brady's light shines through his love for others, especially his family.
He wants people to know,
"Just because I look different, doesn't mean that I act different,"said Brady.
His family hopes Brady's story inspires and gives courage to other children and people dealing with health struggles in their lives.