Arizona Dad Plans 'Bucket List' Birthday for Disabled Son Who Doctors Said Wouldn't Live Past Age 2: 'He's Defied All the Odds'
There are still a lot of things we need to do together while he's still able," Chad Cloward tells PEOPLE of his son
Chad Cloward knows the day is coming when he won’t be greeted by his son’s sweet smile and a friendly, “Hi, bye-bye, hat!” – the only words 29-year-old Dallan knows.
Born with a rare developmental disorder called Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome that afflicts only about 500 people in the United States, the oldest of Chad’s five children wasn’t expected to live past age 2. The rare developmental disorder causes delayed growth and has a high mortality rate.
“He’s defied all the odds,” Chad, 53, a Scottsdale, Arizona, real estate broker tells PEOPLE. “There were many times we almost lost him, but he always pulled through. He’s a delight and an inspiration to everyone he meets.”
With his son’s 30th birthday approaching on August 12, Chad decided that an ordinary birthday party with cupcakes and balloons wouldn’t do. So he came up with a “30 for 30” plan: To celebrate the milestone, he and Dallan would complete 30 activities in six weeks, doing everything from floating in a hot-air balloon to riding their favorite roller coasters and spending a day at the zoo.
A photo posted by Chad Cloward (@chadanddallan) on Jul 2, 2016 at 5:46pm PDT
After he came up with his “30 for 30” project, Chad asked friends and family to suggest ideas on his Facebook page and was quickly overwhelmed.
During the next several weeks, he and Dallan will go camping at the Grand Canyon, deep-sea fishing in Mexico, ride on Disneyland’s “Thunder Mountain” coaster and soar in an ultralight plane.
“He loves home movies, so we’re going to have a home video marathon,” says Chad, “and since Dallan also loves salsa, we’re going to go to a salsa-tasting place. Then we’ll ride a jet boat in Hell’s Canyon in Idaho and we’ll visit some sick kids at a children’s hospital to help cheer them up. Dallan is always so happy – he’ll love doing that.”
For those who want to follow their adventures, Chad says he’ll be posting photos on Facebook and Instagram.
“The beauty of Dallan is that he doesn’t know how wonderful he is,” he tells PEOPLE. “He doesn’t live for tomorrow, or for clothes or for money. He just enjoys today. I feel very blessed every day to have him in my life.”