Summerside Walk For Wishes raises thousands for Children’s Wish Foundation
SUMMERSIDE — Children decked out in hockey jerseys, colourful morphsuits and Children’s Wish Foundation T-shirts lined up in front of a fire truck to get their pictures taken.
© Ryan Cooke/Journal Pioneer
Participants gather around Alex Compton, the 12-year-old parade marshal, at the annual Walk For Wishes on Saturday.
Their parents, coaches and other adults filled out the back rows behind them.
“We’re here to support the community,” said one child, sporting a bright green morphsuit from head to toe.
“It’s really important to our buddy, Alex,” said another.
The Children’s Wish Foundation Walk For Wishes kicked off Saturday afternoon outside Pizza Delight, with 50-plus participants joining members of the Summerside fire department in a walk up Granville Street.
The special guest of honour for the afternoon, Alex Compton, turned down the chance to ride up front in the fire truck to walk with his buddies — fellow members of the peewee Summerside Western Capitals.
Alex, who suffers from rheumatoid arthritis, got the chance to live out his wish last March when he travelled to Toronto to see the Toronto Maple Leafs in action.
“These events are just so important,” said Alex’s mother, Julie Compton.
Living with rheumatoid arthritis, Alex has lived with the repercussions of the disease for nine years. He’s been undergoing chemotherapy treatments since he was three-years-old.
“It’s affected every joint in his body,” said Julie. “Some days are good, some days aren’t. You never really know where you’re going to be.”
Michelle Gallant helps organize people inside the restaurant, helping work the sign-in desk.
After her sister was killed in a car accident, Gallant and her family decided to get involved in charity work in her honour.
“It started off as a small family thing,” said Gallant. “We had a goal to raise $1,900 on her 19th birthday, and we exceeded that goal by $6,000.”
Five years ago, when she became involved with the Walk For Wishes, about 10 people attended. Each year since, they’ve surpassed 50 participants, and raised tens of thousands of dollars for the Children’s Wish Foundation.
The money goes towards children like Alex, who got to spend a day with his heroes.
“I really couldn’t pick a favourite part of that day,” he said. “It was all just awesome.”
The generosity of the Leafs players left the Comptons needing to FedEx a box of hockey sticks home, because they signed too many for him to take on the plane.
“Everybody was phenomenal,” Julie said. “I couldn’t say enough about the organization.”
Getting to see kids experience their wishes is what Gallant enjoys the most.
Each year, the Children’s Wish Foundation hosts “Exile Island” – a Survivor-type event with various challenges to complete. Each year, they invite a Wish child to join them.
Seeing the smiles on their faces as they take part and have fun makes it all worth it, said Gallant.
“It’s just the highlight of our year,” she said. “It’s what we look forward to every year.”
By the end of the walk on Saturday, the group tallied up $4,985.25 for the charity – a successful haul for a fun-filled day in the October sunshine.
“Without the support of everybody in the community, all the families and friends, it wouldn’t be possible,” said Gallant.