Special child with “aging disease” asked to play a special role at basketball player’s wedding

LEXINGTON, Kentucky - Zach Pickard is one of only 17 children in the U.S. suffering from Progeria, often called "the aging disease," and the only child in all of Kentucky with the genetic disorder.

But Zach is just like most 10-year-old boys - he loves to master Rubik's cubes and watch basketball, especially his favorite player, University of Kentucky Forward Derek Willis.

Willis' fiancee, Keely Potts, saw a news story about Zach and reached out to his family.

Zach and the newly-engaged couple became fast friends, forming a special bond.

Ever since, Potts has brought Zach to a few UK games to watch Willis play.

Zach's mother says, "Keely trots him around like he's a celebrity," Tina Pickard tells LEX18-TV. "Keely has a soft spot in her heart for special children and I think it rubbed off on Derek," Tina said about the 6'9" UK player. "If he comes over, he sits in the floor, he takes up the whole floor," Tina laughed.

Derek Willis recently proposed to his bride-to-be in front of a packed crowd on the UK basketball court.

And the happy couple just asked Zach to be the ring bearer at their upcoming wedding in the summer of 2018.

The couple framed their printed request and presented it to Zach, who read aloud with a giant smile on his face, "We know you'll be perfect and make a lasting impression. Will you be our ring bearer?"

Zach's dad, Brandon Pickard says, "It's just great that somebody is willing, that has the heart to do that for him," Pickard said. "Shows how good of a guy he really is."