All for a smile

There is nothing more special than seeing your kids being treated like they are special. It’s that simple. Want to win my heart? Win my kids hearts. Want to make me happy? Treat my kids well. Want to say thank you? Say it by being nice to them.

In my strive to make people aware of the problems that kids with Congenital Heart Defects face (along with their families) I have come into contact with many people. I have met other families, I worked with many charities, and I have had the pleasure of meeting some pretty great people. Toronto has a lot of great people, but sometimes you get the chance to meet some that are just really special, who just want to do something nice, to make you smile. I have met many along the way. Some, friends who have journeyed with us from the very beginning, and still others who are total strangers and yet they care.

One of the things that I did this year was to arrange a day at Kaleb’s school, raising awareness and some funds, during this event we had the very fun opportunity to meet with David Clarkson of the Toronto Maple Leafs (and Carlton too!!). I wont go into a of detail because I have already blogged about this day. I remind you of this because later, in March, I was asked to do an interview with the Toronto Maple Leafs discussing David Clarkson and his work with families through in southern Ontario. I happily agreed and the video was made.

Now, at the time the team that came to the house for the interview told me to let them know if we would ever like to come and see the ACC for a tour, and I decided to take them up on it. I wrote and asked if it would be possible. I got an email back the following day. A tour would be difficult, but they would like to give us playoff tickets to the Marlie’s game five! Now, I don’t know about you… but a tour of an empty building can’t even come close to comparing to going to a playoff game! I was stoked! This was awesome!

As it turns out, they also invited the boys to join them for pre-game warm up… on the bench!! It was like some kind of dream for them (though our shy little Kaper didn’t seem too thrilled until after the fact).

Josh giving pre-game high fives to the team

We had amazing seats, and we quickly settled in to watch the game. Kaleb in my lap and Josh between Tim and I. My parents rounded out our group on my left. Through out the first period the boys; Kaleb in particular, was watching Duke (The dog mascot for the Marlie’s) intently. Every time he spotted him he would shout, ‘Mama, there’s Duke!!’ and if he got close to our section he would grab Josh and together they would yell ‘DUKE’ as loud as they could in hopes they might capture the dogs attention. So, half way through the second period you can imagine their immense pleasure when Duke came straight to their seats and said he was looking for Joshua and Kaleb! The boys practically (well… no practically about it….) climbed over my mom and I to get close to the giant dog. Duke, who then gave them two large gift bags full of Marlie’s toys and T-shirts posed for a photo with them, gave them high fives and a quick snuggle. It was a moment that they wont soon forget I can promise you. I think my two guys were the envy of every kid in our section!

It is not often that you have a day so packed full of ‘specialness’ of memorable moments that will reach far into their futures and yours, days when you just know ‘they will never forget this’. Yesterday was one of those days! The Toronto Maple Leafs went above and beyond yesterday to make sure we knew they appreciated us, not just Josh and all the reasons why his story helped make their story better, not just me for being willing to share that story, but the whole family, and Kaleb, who one of the members of the Maple Leaf team specifically made sure to include when she thanked us.

Josh’s story is not just about Josh, it’s not about me. It’s about our family, together we have traveled this road. Kaleb too, has had a long and difficult few years watching his family suffer all while not fully understanding what was happening; and yesterday he felt just as special as Josh in every way that matters. He even made it to the interview we did for the “the Leaf”.

These two boys, their Dad, my parents, Tim’s parents, and all of our siblings and friends have stuck together on this journey and together we have grown and changed as a result. We know that not everyone gets many of the special things that we get as a result of the hand we were dealt, but we also know how blessed we are; and we want you to know we appreciate it, and are truly grateful for each opportunity. We do not take for granted the gifts that come our way.

We, as a family wanted to say thank you to the Toronto Maple Leafs for making yesterday so awesome. We want to thank all the organizations like Cardiac Kids and Starlight who do everything they can to help families like ours feel the joy and pleasure of being a kid, no matter what the day to day looks like. We want to thank all the people in between, all the David Clarkson’s and Ally Williams’ and Meghan Hurley’s in the world who strive to make the kids smile in spite of their circumstances.

Thank you.



Published by lauriehaughton

Author & Photographer

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