SQUEALS of delight echoed around the centre ring as Connor Cox saddled up for the ride of his life on a gigantic yellow horse at the Rockhampton Showgrounds.
An avid speedway fan, the seven-year-old could barely contain his excitement as he climbed into the cabin of the monster truck called Outback Thunda
He was grinning like a cheshire cat when he got behind the wheel with driver Clive Feather and you could almost hear his enthusiastic screams over the thunderous roar of the truck's powerful engine as it did several circuits.
He was a little lost for words when he stepped down from the towering vehicle but it was obvious he had an incredible time, the smile etched on his face.
But the happy demeanour masks a serious genetic disorder the brave boy has lived with since birth.
Connor has the most severe form of haemophilia, a genetic disorder that impairs his body's ability to control blood clotting.
His blood has less than a 1% clotting capacity and he has to have injections three times a week of artificial Factor VIII.
"It's been very hard ... every little knock and he can bruise, it can cause joint bleeds, it can cause muscle bleeds," mum Kerry Johnson explains.
"We try to give him the fullest life he can have but just have to watch him."
Connor has spent about three months of this year in and out of hospital.
On one occasion, he had more than two weeks in hospital after contracting a serious infection at the site of his portacath, a device inserted into his chest to make administering needles more comfortable.
The portacath was removed in April and Kerry has been giving Connor the needles since.
But that has presented a new problem.
Connor's veins are scarring badly and he has developed a phobia of needles.
"It's understandable, given that he's basically been a pin cushion for the past six years," dad Ronald Cox said.
Despite the disorder, Connor is living life like a normal little boy.
"He's very, very active," Kerry said.
"He goes to school... he does everything like a normal kid.
He does cheerleading, he plays soccer but he has to have treatments on those days to make sure he is fully clotting.
"He should live a full life but he has to watch himself and maintain the treatments."
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