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Ava (AGE 13, CANCER)

Ava was a busy teenager, keeping herself active with dance, cheerleading and running club. Her mom wasn’t surprised when she started complaining about pain in her right leg. They went to the doctor expecting a prescription for physiotherapy, but were sent for an X-ray instead. Next came an MRI, and finally, after two biopsies, doctors confirmed Ava had cancer in her right leg and lungs.

In 2018, Ava had the opportunity to have her wish granted. Wanting to share her wish experience with her whole family, she wished for a family trip to the Orlando theme parks.

Optimistic and inspiring, Ava has organized school and community fundraisers and is an outspoken advocate for kids living with cancer. While having to take a break from dance and cheerleading, Ava has discovered a new passion in singing and playing the ukulele.

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bRAEDEN (AGE 5, HEART CONDITION)

When Braeden’s mom was 19 weeks pregnant, doctors explained her baby boy would be born with a congenital heart defect and he would need multiple open-heart surgeries. At just three-days-old, Braeden had his first of four open-heart surgeries at the Stollery.

In 2017, Braeden wished to be a Toronto Blue Jay. An avid baseball fan, Braeden is passionate about his favourite team (and about having his mom read him the baseball rule book all the time). During his wish Braeden met with Blue Jay players in the locker room, watched batting practice and hung out with ACE and Jose Bautista. Afterwards he and his family enjoyed the game. “This experience meant everything to him,” says Braeden’s mom.

(Photo by Andy Devlin/Edmonton Oilers Hockey Club)

(Photo by Andy Devlin/Edmonton Oilers Hockey Club)

 
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rYDER (AGE 8, HEART CONDITION)

Ryder was eager to come into the world, born 11 weeks premature. After spending his first three months of life in the NICU, Ryder’s parents were looking forward to finally taking him home. After a few days of no eating, shallow breathing and blue lips, he was rushed back to the Stollery. After several tests, Ryder was diagnosed with a rare heart condition that causes his heart to be enlarged and beat irregularly. Ryder has undergone many procedures and will need medicine and monitoring for the rest of his life. He wears a heart monitor and carries an external defibrillator with him wherever he goes.

Ryder loves playing hockey in his driveway and dreams of learning to play like a pro. In 2018, his wish to meet his hockey hero, Connor McDavid, came true. On his wish day, Ryder joined the Edmonton Oilers for a practice and acted as the team’s coach on the bench. He even interviewed McDavid and the other players in the Oilers dressing room. “This was a wonderful experience for our whole family,” says Ryder’s mom.

Zach (age 16, rare disease)

Zach is one in a million – he is the only child in the world to be diagnosed with his extremely rare disease. Originally from Saskatchewan, Zach’s family moved to Alberta in 2003 to be closer to the Stollery. After 10 years of tests and specialists, Zach was diagnosed with a rare disease that is similar to diabetes, but his body doesn’t know what to do with the calcium in his body – his body calcified his kidneys, brains and nerve system.   

At nine years old, Zach wished to swim with a dolphin. He and his family travelled to Orlando and Discovery Cove where Zach was beaming as he was pulled through the water by a bottle-nosed dolphin. “The time we spent together as a family during this trip was so precious,” says Zach’s mom. “For a moment it was as if Zach was fine and weight of his disease on our hearts was forgotten.”

Zach, now 16, continues to visit the Stollery regularly for tests and is currently in stage 2 kidney failure, waiting to see when he will start dialysis treatment.

ISAIAH (AGE 11, KIDNEY DISORDER)

Isaiah appeared to be healthy when he was born, but as he started to get older, he wasn’t gaining weight or growing and he wasn’t hitting milestones other kids his age were. To top it all off, he was drinking an excessive amount of water.

Isaiah went undiagnosed for three-and-a-half years. He was finally referred to an Endocrinologist at the Stollery who made his diagnosis within a few days. Isaiah’s kidneys don’t concentrate water and they make too much urine, which causes him to drink upwards of six liters of water a day. Drinking this much water comes with frequent bathroom breaks, and even by drinking this much water a day, Isaiah can become dehydrated quickly.

As a really big fan of the Toy Story movies, he wished to meet Buzz Lightyear and Woody. In 2012, he and his family travelled to Orlando where they enjoyed a week of theme park excitement. Isaiah met his Toy Story heroes (and other favourite characters). Hugs were exchanged, and the family created some unforgettable memories.

Today, Isaiah is a happy, energetic boy who eats a low sodium diet and can always be spotted with a water bottle in hand.