CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Many 7-year-old boys dream of becoming famous athletes, but for Max Whittington, playing sports just isn't in the cards.
Max has hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. This is the cardiac condition you hear about when high school athletes collapse while playing sports. It is a thickening of a piece of the heart muscle, and usually goes undiagnosed.
Max's mother, Tracy, said his condition was discovered when he was 7 months old.
"We are lucky to know about this in Max so we can keep him safe," she said.
Max does not have any outward symptoms of his condition, but that may change as he gets older.
On Saturday Max will be recognized at the American Heart Association's 59th Annual Greater Charlotte Heart Ball.
While his heart condition may keep him off the sports field, he's got dreams big enough for two kids.
"Max's love of weather, particularly storms and tornadoes, started when he was about 4," Tracy said. "He still loves to watch storms and read about them. Weather books are his bedtime stories."
Max has plans to become a storm chaser. He even says he's moving to Oklahoma when he's old enough. For now, we decided to give him a little taste of storm chasing from inside WBTV's Storm 3.
Max showed up Friday morning at WBTV Studios raring to go. He went into a sprint while being led out to the truck. As he hopped up into the front seat and buckled in, his smile rivaled even the giant size of Storm 3.
"We're looking for Maxnadoes," he said with a grin.
Because there weren't any active storms to chase, for two hours we drove around and chased the make-believe Maxnadoes. But first we stopped to get some donuts, because, you know, priorities.
While scouring the radar for any sign of our target storms, Max belted out weather facts he's learned in his few short years studying the science. He also told us why he wants to be a storm chaser.
"Because they see circulation from the tornadoes, they chase them and get information from them," Max said with the confidence of a person much older than his 7 years.
He also got to put in an earpiece and wear a microphone and do "live shots" for WBTV's Morning Break program during the great chase.
We didn't just "chase" Maxnadoes. The kid is also quite into "Hamilton," and entertained us with recitals of songs from the popular musical.
Max smiled all morning. I smiled all morning. His mom did too.
For him, it was very clearly a dream come true. Even if we were only chasing pretend storms, Max got to feel the thrill of doing it. And he's more than welcome back any time to ride again.