Make A Wish grants Pembroke girl's ultimate wish
Pembroke's Blok Pools and Hot Tubs adopted and sponsored Caitlin’s wish. Pictured here, Blok Pools and Hot Tubs' Matthew Fraser poses with Caitlin and her new hot tub.
Most kids dream of going to Disney World, but Pembroke’s Caitlin Blanchette has always dreamed of getting a hot tub.
In 2013, the seven-year-old was diagnosed with a severe case of Recurrent Respiratory Papillomatosis (RRP), a condition that causes lesions to grow on her larynx. Over the years, Caitlin has already has 39 surgeries which have only provided temporary treatment as the growths continue to grow back.
“It is a rare and long-term condition that has no cure and no surefire treatment. In Canada, there’s only two in every 100,000 children who are born with it,” said Tanya Parker, Caitlin’s mom. “All that surgery does is remove the growth and then it grows back at whatever speed it wants to. I know a few adults that have had upwards of 300 surgeries and they're only in their 20s.”
Awhile back, her family applied to Make-A-Wish and Caitlin’s number one wish was to get a hot tub and her second wish was to “go on a fidget spinner shopping spree”.
“She decided that she wanted something that would last a little bit longer than a vacation so she chose either a hot tub or 100 fidget spinners,” said Tanya.
Since its inception in 1983, Make-A-Wish Canada’s eight regional chapters have granted over 7,000 magical wishes to children with serious and life-threatening conditions, such as RRP.
On Tuesday, Make-A-Wish of Eastern Ontario teamed up with the Pembroke community to help make Caitlin’s dream come true.
“Everyone who heard about Caitlin's wish wanted to participate in one way or another and make this as magical as possible for her,” said Annie-France Stiles, Wish Coordinator for Make-A-Wish Eastern Ontario. “It was a fun and easy process working with everyone to make this happen and share the power of a wish.”
Around 3p.m., Caitlin stepped outside the doors of her Rockwood Public School where she was greeted by excited chants of ‘Caitlin! Caitlin!’ coming from her family, her Grade 2 class and her former kindergarten teacher’s class.
“It was her whole Grade 2 class and the kindergarten class who were there, because her kindergarten teacher has been following her story ever since Cailtin was a little girl, so she brought her class out and it was just so sweet,” said Tanya. “And my parents came all the way form Barrie to be there for the big reveal and surprise Caitlin.”
A red carpet had been laid outside for Caitlin to walk along as she was welcomed inside a limousine – provided by AAA Limousine & Coach – along with her three best friends, her mom and her step dad.
After a classy ride around the area, the limousine arrived at Caitlin’s house where she was brought outside to see greatest wish come true, in the form of a brand new hot tub on her family’s back porch.
According to Stiles, Blok Pools and Hot Tubs happily adopted Caitlin’s wish and sponsor the entire cost of the hot tub.
After enjoying a dip in the tub, Caitlin and her friends and family were treated to a pizza party catered by Pizza Hut Pembroke.
Tanya said that she was floored by the outstanding community support that helped to make her daughter’s dream come true.
“It was the most amazing experience that any child and any child's parents could ever experience. Seeing Caitlin receive the wish of their dreams was just so wonderful – I’m still crying just thinking about it,” said Tanya.
After experiencing the pure joy of seeing her daughter’s wish come true, Tanya said that she’s going to work hard for more children with RRP to have their wishes granted.
“I’d like to help other RRP patients, children with the same illness as Caitlin, and I would love to help them receive their wishes. A lot of them have been denied wishes and now that Caitlin has received her wish I think that there's a lot of hope for these other children,” she said. “There’s not better experience than to see your child receive something so special.”