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Out of this world Toy Show star Adam King's proud dad tells of delight at public reaction

"Our eldest son, Danny, is space crazy and wants to be an astronaut and Adam has always been his Capcom [spacecraft communicator]. Together they have great space adventures"

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HEART-STEALER: Adam King, with his dad David, was a big hit on The Late Late Toy Show. Photo: Fergal Phillips

HEART-STEALER: Adam King, with his dad David, was a big hit on The Late Late Toy Show. Photo: Fergal Phillips

HEART-STEALER: Adam King, with his dad David, was a big hit on The Late Late Toy Show. Photo: Fergal Phillips

Adam King has spent years dreaming big dreams and watching the International Space Station fly over his home while stargazing through a telescope with his older brother.

So when he woke to the news that former commander Chris Hadfield had reached out while he slept to invite him to "talk space", his excitement went stratospheric.

"He was shocked," said his father David King. "He was bouncing up and down on the bed. I heard it last night and I couldn't sleep afterwards. I told him first thing."

The six-year-old, from Killeagh, Co Cork, stole the hearts of the nation when he appeared on RTÉ's Late Late Toy Show with his 'virtual hug' and his plans to one day command a space mission with Nasa.

David says his dream "is part of a bigger narrative in our house" with the help of his older brother.

"We have a telescope and we are fortunate enough to be at a latitude that we can frequently watch the International Space Station travel over our house. We live in the countryside where there is little light pollution so the kids can see the some of the closer planets and meteor showers, too.

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DREAMS: Saoirse with her mum Roseanna. The eight-year-old, who lost a leg due to a tumour, was gifted a Disney World trip

DREAMS: Saoirse with her mum Roseanna. The eight-year-old, who lost a leg due to a tumour, was gifted a Disney World trip

DREAMS: Saoirse with her mum Roseanna. The eight-year-old, who lost a leg due to a tumour, was gifted a Disney World trip

"Our eldest son, Danny, is space crazy and wants to be an astronaut and Adam has always been his Capcom [spacecraft communicator]. Together they have great space adventures."

Now messages are rolling in from astronaut trainers and Nasa's mission control operatives, who watched Adam's space countdown and want to help him get closer to the action. "It's very humbling," says David.

Born with a brittle bone condition, which, in its most severe form, is not compatible with life, Adam's parents had prepared themselves for the chance they wouldn't hear a cry in the delivery ward. Instead, they heard "a roar".

Since then, Adam has defied all medical expectations. But not without the constant support of hospital workers like John Doyle, who Adam credited with being his "favourite Irish celebrity" on his Late Late Toy Show application.

David, who has written a book called But Really... Adventures with a Difference to inspire families of children with additional needs, says: "Historically, children with Adam's condition [osteogenesis imperfecta] were known as 'pillow babies' because they were passed around on pillows for fear of breaking them. We were of the mindset that we were never going to wrap our child in cotton wool. We didn't buy into that narrative."

Elsewhere on the show, Saoirse Ruane (8), from Kiltullagh, Co Galway, also captured hearts as she shared her story of losing her leg because of a tumour.

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She first started to feel ill on Toy Show night last year and wanted to walk again by this Christmas. She got her wish and was presented with a trip to Disney World by Ryan Tubridy.

Meanwhile, a charity appeal launched during the show has raised almost €6m so far. Ryan said the new RTÉ charity fund will be used to support "the children who need it most".

All funds raised will be distributed by The Community Foundation for Ireland in 2021. Half of the money raised will be shared among the three charities: Barnardos, Children's Health Foundation and Children's Books Ireland.

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