Sunshine Foundation

The Railroad Adventure of His Dreams

Friday, November 4, 2016

As the summer was coming to a close, fourteen-year-old Patrick from Whitney, New Brunswick, was getting geared up to embark on an experience of a lifetime – a true Canadian railroad adventure that he would never forget.

Since the age of two, Patrick has loved trains. Like many kids, he was first introduced to them through the loveable Thomas the Tank Engine. As a child living with cerebral palsy and limited eyesight, Patrick’s love for trains was something he could put his energy into. As he grew, so did his interest and curiosity, venturing out with his family on weekends to check out real life trains, dreaming of the day when he could board one and take a nice long ride. 

This past August, Sunshine was able to grant Patrick his Sunshine Dream come true. The journey of his dreams took Patrick and his family first to Vancouver where they spent a day exploring the city and enjoying a special tour of the Vancouver Aquarium. Patrick’s Mom Thea shared their experience with a special penguin.

"We actually got to help with her morning health check. Patrick (and me!) got to rub her feet to massage them and spread them out to check the webbing to make sure there were no injuries. We all got to “pet” her which is a process of lifting her wings and fluffing her feathers. Then watch as she shakes them back into place.”

After a great start in Vancouver, it was that evening at precisely 8:30pm when Patrick finally heard the words he’d been waiting for - “All aboard!” The nudge of the train cars signaled the start of their trip to the Rocky Mountains and Patrick nestled himself into his sleeping cabin for the night.

For Patrick, there was no better feeling than waking up to the rocking of the train, the clicking of the tracks, and the beautiful evergreen trees and majestic mountains blurring past the window. Once the train arrived in Jasper, Patrick met the VIA Rail Engineers who greeted him with smiles just as big as Patrick’s, happily answering all of his questions. “Patrick met two engineers - Todd and Earl. And was THRILLED!” says Thea. “When people ask about his favourite part of course he says the train ride with a grin from ear to ear. Amazing is all that I can say.”

Patrick’s journey continued the next three days as he and his family explored the Rockies, Maligne Lake, the Icefields, and Banff before flying home.  It was truly an adventure that they will never forget. A few weeks later, Patrick underwent surgery from which he has now recovered. We like to think that his memories of riding the rails helped him get through it.

Sunshine would like to thank our friends at VIA Rail Canada and the Vancouver Aquarium for helping to make Patrick’s Sunshine Dream a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

You can help make dreams come true for more kids across Canada, just like Patrick. 

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