The little lad with a giant heart
5 November 2019 | North West England
One inspirational youngster is changing the way people view wheelchair users
Dante Marvin doesn’t believe in “disabilities, only abilities”. The 11-year-old from Liverpool may have brittle bone disease and scoliosis but that hasn’t stopped him from charming everyone he meets, becoming an ambassador for the charity Variety and competing in kids’ cookery show Step Up to the Plate. And to top it all, he’s one of this year’s Pride of Britain Children of Courage.
His mum, Rachel, knew early on there would be no holding her son back. "Even if you wrap him in cotton wool, he’s still going to break. So, I just thought, I’m not wasting the cotton wool then."
Rachel isn’t joking. Due to his condition, Dante has actually fractured over 90 bones during his young life. This means time in and out of hospital. He even watched his TV debut on Step Up to the Plate from a ward bed, because he was recovering from major surgery to put metal rods in his legs.
Dante’s not one to shy away from a challenge. He’s body-popped with Ashley Banjo, sung with pop star Anne-Marie and traded banter with Fred Sirieix. In fact, he’s already set his heart on being a TV presenter one day. “I love being on camera and helping other children like myself,” he explains. That’s why he works with Variety, visiting other seriously ill and disabled children in hospital, while helping to identify others who could benefit from the charity’s assistance.
The Liverpool lad first became involved with Variety when his mum approached the charity about getting her son a new wheelchair. But his infectious energy soon won over the team. Variety North West development director Lyn Staunton is a big fan. "He has so much passion to change the perception of how the world looks at young wheelchair users - in his words, a wheelchair is only a means of transport."
He works every day to change people’s attitudes about disability. “I’ve gone round and done loads of different events and raised over £1.5 million for the charity.” He’d encourage others to get involved too, because as Dante puts it, “you could be helping children just like me.”