Imagine for a moment sitting in the front of a race car, feeling the heat of the engine and the roar of the horsepower as it carries you across the finish line in first place. The inner track is filled with other drivers and racetrack staff, lining the pavement to cheer you on. The substantial crowd has risen to their feet, applauding and living the moment with you. You emerge from your car and are lifted to the roof. You take hold of the trophy, turn to the crowd, and hoist it high for all to see.
This is what dreams are made of, and this is exactly what three year old, Liam Brechin of Sherwood Park, experienced the evening of July 5th, 2014 at The Edmonton International Raceway in Wetaskiwin, Alberta.
Liam, who has been diagnosed with leukemia, is one of over eighty-five children whose wishes are being made come true this year by partnerships between Make-A-Wish and generous companies and individuals wanting to help. Though Liam’s ‘wish’ is to go to Disney World, which already has been adopted by ‘Mud, Sweat & Gears’ out of Edmonton, additional opportunities like, “A Day At The Races” are given to the kids of Make-A-Wish as they come available.
Katie Willis, Communications Coordinator for Make-A-Wish Northern Alberta, says Make-A-Wish kids state three wishes they would like to happen. Of these, which can range anywhere from, “Feed the hungry of the world,” “Meet Einstein” or, “Go to Disney World,” the team, which consists of the family, Make-A-Wish staff and the wish sponsors, will decide which wish can be granted. As Katie Willis says, “Unfortunately, some wishes cannot be fulfilled within this space-time continuum.”
To help kids choose their wishes, Make-A-Wish prompts them with four questions; “I wish to meet, I wish to go, I wish to be, and I wish to have.” Lately, Katie says that they are introducing a new question, “I wish to give,” as many children are wishing to do something good for others. Kids are asking to go help a family in Mexico as their wish, or recently, one child asked to help and hold hurting animals, so their wish was granted by going to the Edmonton Humane Society who works with abused and abandoned animals. Once the wish has been decided, a very special evening is planned in which the wish is revealed to the child.
What is truly remarkable about the Adopt-A-Wish program, in which companies and individuals take on sponsorship of a child’s wish, is they can become far more than just the money behind the scenes. They become part of a team, involved throughout the process with the family and the planning.
Such an individual is Don Lawrence of Shell Canada. Don became involved with Make-A-Wish and the Brechin family for the first time this year, offering his services (and race car) to make a special evening and a memorable experience for young Liam. Having previous experience with someone going through what Liam is going through, Don wants to make a difference, and give back what he can.
Katie Willis says that companies like Shell Canada have been incredible partners with Make-A-Wish Northern Alberta, but the opportunities for anyone to help are unlimited. Many of their wishes require all kinds of skills and trades which can be given as, “In-kind donations.”
Memories are powerful. For some of us, our memories can be a lifeboat to carry us through some very dark waters. This is one of the gifts that Make-A-Wish offers young kids like Liam. If you would like to learn more about them, visit them online at www.makeawishna.ca.
Pictured: Liam Brechin’s smile says it all as Don Lawrence prepares to take him for a spin in his blue #8 at the Edmonton International Raceway in Wetaskiwin, AB. Photo submitted