The Malta Independent 27 April 2017, Thursday

Jake Vella’s story wins hearts of many; Entrepreneur eager to help make boy’s dream come true

Joanna Demarco Wednesday, 15 March 2017, 12:18 Last update: about 2 months ago

Jake Vella, the seven year old Maltese triathlon athlete who is battling a rare condition called ‘ROHHAD’, has won the hearts of many after his story was published on LovinMalta last week. “Maltese people have very good hearts,” Maruska Vella, Jake’s mother told The Malta Independent when contacted.  “Without even asking, people come forward on their own, contacting us to say how Jake’s story has touched their hearts”.

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This paper was yesterday informed that one of those who were deeply moved by Jake’s story was Paceville entrepreneur Hugo Chetcuti. Contacted by this newspaper, Mr Chetcuti confirmed that he was trying to make Jake’s dream a reality.  The young boy’s dream is to someday meet Alistair and Johnny Brownlee, the triathlon-running brothers from England. Due to his condition, Jake is unable to travel to meet them, so the only way for Jake’s dream to come true is if the famous athletes visit him in Malta.

“It’s not the first time that I see such videos, but this one touched my heart, and Jake’s dream is something which is not impossible,” Mr Chetcuti told this newspaper.

“His dream is not something impossible, so I am trying to work on it, together with some other people, and hopefully they (the Brownlee brothers) do come. In Malta everyone helps everyone, all year round, so I just want to do my part,” said Mr Chetcuti.

Jake and his parents, Maruska and Josie, went public with their story in order to raise awareness about the condition. ROHHAD, short for Rapid-onset Obesity with Hypothalamic dysfunction, Hypoventilation and Autonomic Dysregulation is a rare disease where obesity is hormonal. That means that no matter how hard Jake trains or eats healthily, he cannot stop his body from gaining weight.

“We decided to speak about it because we wanted to raise awareness,” said Maruska. “The media is always telling you to eat well and do exercise, and it’s like you’re doing something bad. We wanted to share Jake’s story to raise awareness that obesity can be hormonal.”

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