Following the highly distasteful Italian meme that hit our socials, which has now been taken down, many Maltese people were ready to reply, defending Maltese hero Jake Vella.
Despite suffering from ROHHAD, Rapid-onset Obesity with Hypothalamic Dysfunction, Hypoventilation and Autonomic Dysregulation, which is both an extremely rare disease and incurable, Jake a nine-year-old kid, runs triathlons across Malta to keep himself active.
There is no one diagnosed with ROHHAD who has been known to live past their twenties, so the Vella family make sure to live life day-by-day, trying to make Jake lead as normal a life as possible.
Over the past 24 hours, many people have come to his defense, commenting on the Italian Facebook post with words of encouragement.
Some social media users lost their minds over the meme, commenting: ‘You should be ashamed of yourself to make fun of a boy that is of such an inspiration despite his rare illness. SHAME ON YOU!!!’
Parliamentary Secretary Clifton Grima added: ‘Before posting on social media one should be aware of the circumstances and even consider his own responsibilities.
‘The person in the picture is indeed an inspiration for all of us, not just in sports but also an example of how one should live. This is irresponsible and irrational behaviour.’
‘Dr Grima then went on to tell Bay: ‘I think we can all agree that there’s Jake is a very lovable person.
‘He’s an example to us all and has shown us how to handle and face everyday life.
‘When a person like Jake, who has gone through so much and still puts on a smile on their face, participating in sport, we as a country need to get together and show Jake our support.
‘Week after week, Jake has been and still is an inspiration to us all and I feel lucky to have met him.
‘He’s the perfect example to us all about the importance of keeping active. Even though we face troubles in everyday life, we need to find ways of turning those troubles into opportunities.’