YARMOUTH, N.S. – Seven-year-old Lucas Parent of Yarmouth knew he had wished for a camping trailer. But when he arrived at Castle Lake Campground the morning of June 26 he didn’t know his wish was about to come true.
He thought he was just here for a visit.
The little boy ran to Jacob Rafuse, the Atlantic coordinator of the Children’s Wish Foundation, who scooped Lucas up in a big hug.
“This is your camping trailer!” said an excited Rafuse.
The innocence of a little boy being taken by surprise shone through as Lucas looked at everyone who had gathered. “What?” he said, needing to hear the words one more time.
Then, as the surprise sank in, he excitedly ran to the camper to explore inside.
“I didn’t know this was going to happen,” he told his mom April Parent.
At around 18 months old Lucas was diagnosed with Primary Immunodeficiency, Antibody Deficiency, which over the years has turned into Common Variable Immune Deficiency (CVID). What this means is Lucas is unable to build or make his own immune system. Because of this he is at constant risk for infection and illness, which can turn into life-threatening or more serious situations, his mom says.
A cold, for instance, can quickly turn into pneumonia.
The seven-year-old boy travels monthly to the IWK Health Centre in Halifax, where he spends a week meeting with his doctors and medical team while also undergoing a transfusion. The monthly transfusions are to help build an immune system for Lucas, to better help him fight off illness and infections.
His family was excited for Lucas’s wish to be granted because it will give him the opportunity to enjoy being a kid.
The Children’s Wish Foundation purchased the camper for Lucas. The campground owner, Walter Spinney, donated the cost of the campsite for the camping season.
Lucas’s mom said she was pretty excited that her son’s wish day had finally arrived.
“I barely could contain myself this morning, even last night, because I knew this was going to happen for him,” she said.
Parent says Lucas had no inclination this was going to be his big day – not even when everyone had changed into their Children’s Wish Foundation t-shirts that morning for their visit to the campground.
The family’s summer of camping started immediately with the presentation of the camper at the Melbourne, Yarmouth County, campground.
“We’re going to be here today until the end of the summer, that’s our camping goal,” Parent says. “But we still have to go to the IWK for a week in July and a week in August.”
Parent and her partner Matt Muise, Lucas’s dad, had picked up the camper days earlier. The wish foundation had purchased it in Berwick and Parent says the previous owner was very excited that the camper was to be part of a wish.
“He even took the price down by $1,000 to make sure everything was covered, like the taxes, because it has to be within a certain budget for the wish,” she said. “He included a lot of extras like the bedding, the dishes, the barbecue. He included extra stuff to even make it more special for Lucas.”
Muise says Lucas loves to be outside so as they arrived at the campground for his “visit” they were pointing out things to him, like the playground.
“He was pretty excited to see that stuff,” said Muise, adding about the wish, “It was hard keeping it a secret.”
The family also includes four other children: Haley, Kyzer, Mckenna and Kaiden. The entire family is excited for their camping adventure.
For his part Rafuse said this was a great day.
“We’re finally getting to do what we love to do best, actually grant the child their most heart-felt wish,” he said.
And as for Lucas, the excitement of having his wish granted was evident.
Asked why he asked for a camper for his wish he said simply, “Because it looked like fun.”
And now the fun has begun.