When the chocolate cake arrived, Owen was excited. He probably thought that was the surprise his parents had in store the morning they came with his grandmother for Sunday breakfast at the Pastry Peddler. But the cake was just the opening act.
As he cut through his cake, Owen learned that he was the recipient of a trip to Disneyland with his family from the Toronto & Central Ontario branch of the Make-A-Wish Canada, an affiliate of Make-A-Wish® International. The largest wish-granting organization in the world, it has granted wishes for more than 415,000 children since 1980. They grant wishes to children aged three through 17 years old with life-threatening medical conditions. Owen is at the bottom end of the age spectrum, and has just reached his fourth birthday.
The good news is Owen and his family are getting a wish. The bad news is that Owen qualifies for this generosity.
Owen was born four weeks premature, but the concerns about his birth centred on his mother, whose medical condition had prompted his early arrival. Prior to his release, a routine check at PRHC revealed that Owen’s heart had not developed properly- only the right side was functioning. The left side, which is the powerhouse, was non-existent. At eleven days of age, Owen underwent the first of a series of operations at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children, but not before his parents were asked given the prognosis, if they wanted forgo medical intervention and let him pass naturally.
Surgeons replumbed Owen’s heart tissue, and his three subsequent surgeries are stop-gap solutions. The family has been told that eventually Owen will suffer from heart failure and will need a heart transplant. No timeline has been established.
In the meantime, Owen’s parents continue to live as normally as possible. His mother Sandra Boissoin works in Oshawa, where she has found day care for Owen that is equipped to deal with his medical condition, and his father Steve works for General Motors. Next fall, his parents expect Owen to attend North Cavan School. He will have to skip phys-ed class and boisterous schoolyard play, but will participate in most school activities.
Recipients of Make-A-Wish gifts are referred to the organization by the child’s parent or guardian, a medical professional, or even the child themselves. Others can request a referral, but the organization always makes sure the family is aware of the referral and have them complete the referral process themselves. Wishes fall into four categories: I wish to go, I wish to be, I wish to have and I wish to meet. Some of the most requested wishes include travel, entertainment centres, computer systems, and meeting celebrities. Wishes are funded by donations to this charitable organization.
Owen and his family have booked their tickets and plan to head to Florida. Owen looks forward to seeing the car characters Lightning McQueen and Jackson Storm, but Mickey and Donald will be good to meet, too. Have a great trip! KG