The Red Fred Project began in 2012 with a man named Dallas Graham, who had someone close to him with Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Dallas wanted to write a book with this young boy, but never got the chance. His story inspired the journey to choose one child living in extraordinary circumstances from each state to co-write a book.
“If you could write a book for the entire world to read, what would it be about?”, was Dallas’ goal to ask each child.
Originating in Utah, children have written about a wide variety of topics, from friendship to bullies. Pennsylvania’s young creative is Luke Maeding, a 16-year-old boy who had a double lung transplant and currently has chronic intestinal pseudo-obstruction. Dallas called Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC in search of his Pennsylvanian author.
Nicole Steele, a music therapist at the hospital, was quick to recommend Luke as the perfect candidate. Luke and Dallas worked together for nine months, often over Skype, to write Gaming for Wings. Luke loves playing video games (legend has it he will beat anyone in a challenge) and was able to showcase his talent through his book.
When asked if he could put his book anywhere in the world, Luke chose the library at Children’s Hospital. The book has pictures of the hospital as well as references to different units for those who have visited to find. Luke’s oxygen tank even makes an appearance, which he is very proud of. Luke is the 11th child in the United States to work with Dallas Graham on creating an incredible story. Luke plans on writing a sequel in the future. Dallas asks each child to include two life lessons at the end of their book. The lessons must be different than what any other child has already picked, and these were Luke’s:
• True friends love you just the way you are.
• Sometimes you need someone else’s parts to make you whole.