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Astronaut Neil Armstrong wishes young boy well just prior to his passing

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
August 28th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Astronaut Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon who passed away following complications from heart surgery, inspired millions. One of the very last things that Armstrong did was to congratulate an 11-year-old San Rafael boy on an essay he wrote on his wishes to meet him.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "Sometimes when I look up at the moon, I wonder if my mom and dad are watching me," Max Boddington wrote in the essay. Max' mother had passed away in 2005 and his father in 2008. In the essay, written two years before Armstrong's death on Max added that "My dream is to meet Neil Armstrong, the world's Number One space hero."

The essay was part of an essay contest for alumni of Camp Erin, a network of 38 camps in the United States and one in Canada for children ages 6 to 17 grieving a significant person in their lives, usually a parent.

"He was getting counseling at Hospice by the Bay in Larkspur and that organization supports Camp Erin," Janet Boddington said. "They suggested that he attend the camp. We felt it would be a good place for him to see other children having the same feelings."

His adoptive mother Janet Boddington kept the essay and submitted it to the 2012 Marin County Fair. After it won best of class, Boddington tracked down Neil Armstrong online and sent him the essay.

"Thanks for sharing Max's essay with me," Armstrong wrote back. "It is very poignant and surprisingly erudite for an 11-year-old. ... Tell Max I send him my very best wishes for good luck and success."

"I jumped up and down. I was excited," Max, a fifth-grader at Sun Valley Elementary School in San Rafael said. "It made me happy."

Armstrong, who commanded the Apollo 11 moon landing on July 20, 1969, died a mere 24 days later.

Max was left orphaned at the age of seven. "He has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder," Simon Boddington, Max's adoptive father says. "He's dealing with it pretty well. He is a tough little guy and that is to his advantage."

Max came to live with the couple as a foster child in June 2009 and they formally adopted him in February 2010.

Max graciously consented to an interview. He still doesn't know what he wants to do when he grows up, though he hasn't ruled out being an astronaut. He's also thinking about becoming an engineer, he said.

"We were all just overwhelmed that Mr. Armstrong would take time to answer a little boy's letter and just so touched that he did that," Janet Boddington says. "Yesterday, Max told me, 'Mom, you're my hero for sending him my essay.'"

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