Sunshine Dream Stories
Cooper’s Sea Creature Dream Come True
Choosing what he wanted for his Sunshine Dream was easy, says Cooper’s mom. “We had been to a small aquarium and he was so in love with the little sea horses there that he said he wished he could see them closer up and swim with some sea creatures where they live in the ocean! He likes and needs to feel things as opposed to only looking.”
Cooper lives with Stickler Syndrome, a genetic disorder that causes serious vision, hearing and joint complications. Cooper is completely blind in his left eye, and is extremely near sighted in his right eye. When thinking about his most cherished dream, the 11-year-old didn’t hesitate for a moment. He dreamed of swimming so close to the sea creatures he loves that he would be able to really see them and touch them…while he still has the chance.
Cooper’s dream presentation was a public celebration at his local WINNERS store in London, ON not far from his hometown of Thedford. The ocean-themed presentation created by the Associates at WINNERS was complete with sea creature decorations and a themed cake. Cooper was so excited to hear his dream would actually come true. He would be traveling with his parents and siblings to Toronto for several days of adventure, featuring a visit to Ripley's Aquarium for a VIP behind-the-scenes tour and swimming with the stingrays. Cooper’s parents decided to keep his dream approval a surprise until the announcement at WINNERS. “The surprise that he was going on his Sunshine dream trip was one of the best days of his life,” his mom shared. The following weekend, the family travelled for their first time ever to Toronto for the aquarium VIP tour and swimming with stingrays , enjoyed VIP experiences at the CN Tower, the Toronto Zoo and Cooper attended his first-ever Toronto Blue Jays game.
“For Cooper, the very best part of the trip was swimming with those stingrays,” says his mom Alison. “His smile while petting the sting rays is something that will stay in my heart forever. It meant the world to us to see him experience things he only dreamed of, knowing that his vision is very fragile and can change in the blink of an eye. He could be blind at some point even in his young life so we want him to have these experiences and memories while his vision is still good. Then he can keep these memory photos for his lifetime.”
After having his sea creature adventure dream come true, Cooper said he was very grateful to have been given this special time with his family, as well as with his favourite sea creatures. “I was so excited to do all the awesome things Sunshine had planned for me,” he says. “They make magic happen!”
“For me”, Cooper’s mom shared, “the best part was just making those memories with the whole family and watching Cooper and his siblings explore and experience new things together, to bond. Being in a large family it’s rare we travel too far, so even the hotel stay was a big treat.”
Bringing the Park to a Young Dreamer’s Own Backyard
Just like many kids, Daithi loves to play at the park. He dreamed of spending all day sliding down the slides, soaring high on the swings, and climbing around on the equipment. But, unlike most kids, a number of serious health concerns meant Daithi was rarely allowed to enjoy those simple childhood pleasures. Then, on August 2, 2017, Daithi’s dream came true when he was presented with his Sunshine Dream of playground equipment, custom made for him, turning his backyard into his very own park that he could play in whenever he wanted.
Daithi lives with subglottic stenosis (SGS), which is a narrowing of the airway below the vocal cords and above the trachea, making oral communication difficult. He is able to communicate with some verbal cues, but he also uses a communication device and American Sign Language to express himself to others.
In addition, Daithi lives with bronchopulmonary dysplasia, a chronic lung disease that leaves him at high risk for a life-threatening infection and requires he be very careful to avoid exposure to germs. Due to his condition, Daithi isn’t able to play with the other kids at the local park because his risk for infection is too high and he needs to be careful with his trach, a breathing tube into his windpipe that helps him breathe. As a result, when Daithi would ask his parents if he could go to the park to play a normal daily occurrence for most children they would have to tell him he wasn’t allowed to go.
Now, the park has come to Daithi. His custom built playground equipment including a slide, two swings, a telescope, a trapeze and a tire swing were delivered to his London, ON, home and assembled in his backyard before his very eyes. Sunshine team members celebrated the happy occasion with Daithi, his parents Simon and Dalan, his brothers Cillian, Nessan and Cathal, and a number of friends and family members.
“Daithi was delighted,” says Simon of his son’s reaction to the new equipment, which was also customized to be his favourite colour of yellow. “It provides the opportunity for him to play safely outside but still within our property and also allows him to play with his brothers and friends. He will get huge benefit from this for years and years to come…it is a dream come true!”
Sunshine would like to thank Bosman Homefront for delivering and building Daithi’s playground for him. More life-changing experiences for children like Daithi are made possible by the generosity of supporters and donors like you.
For more Sunshine dream stories, visit our website.