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Rees is 17 and in grade 11. He’s on the honour roll and he won rookie of the year for both the football and baseball teams. He also recently got his driver’s license, and bought his first car with his own money.
It all sounds almost typical, but this well-rounded, high-achieving teen was once sidelined from the life he loved. Rees was 10 in 2011 when he was healing from a neurological condition and was told he wouldn’t be able to play in the upcoming hockey season. He was heartbroken.
Things started to look up though when Rees was given the opportunity to have his wish granted. “Another patient’s mom in the hospital told my mom about it,” says Rees. He wanted just one thing: to meet Alex Burrows from the Vancouver Canucks. “It gave me the opportunity to go somewhere and forget about all the painful procedures and the frustration I had when watching my siblings play hockey from the sidelines."
The wish trip to Vancouver and the experience of meeting the NHL star was hugely memorable for Rees. The best part? “The combination of the Canucks winning that night and actually meeting Alex Burrows in person. He signed and gave me his game stick and the game puck.”
Burrows also gave the young hockey fan some advice. “Alex Burrows told me his story of how he made it to the NHL, and how it was not the way a person would expect. It encouraged me to not give up on my dreams, even though hockey was on hold for the time being.”
Now healthy, Rees has high hopes for his future. “I hope to pursue a science degree and go into medicine in the future. I returned to playing in fall 2012 and went back with a lot more passion. I just finished up my second year of midget. I really enjoy a lot of different sports, but hockey is my favourite.”
“The wish I received gave me and my family a happy time after a very stressful time for all of us. It allowed us to embrace life through the changes we all experienced, and find some normalcy again.”
When a wish is granted, it does much more than bring joy to a child’s heart. For kids like Rees, who are faced with critical illnesses, a wish-come-true provides them with strength to battle through darkness and gives them hope for healthier, happier days ahead.
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