A little boys smile
Recently one of our very good friends contacted us from the Stollery about a little boy named Dani. We were told he was 3 years old and was a race car fan. Danielle asked if there was anything we could do for Dani to create a special moment. We called Dani’s mom Delila and had a wonderful conversation about Dani, their family, his loves, what brought him smiles and we also discussed some very tough questions. We learned a lot that night and vowed to do something fun and spectacular to make a little boy smile.
You see Dani is only 3 years old and in those 3 years he has had struggles that many of us can not even comprehend.
In June of last year a month before his 3rd birthday in July Dani was diagnosed with a Medulloblastoma. Medulloblastoma (muh-dul-o-blas-TOE-muh) is a cancerous (malignant) brain tumor that starts in the lower back part of the brain, called the cerebellum. The cerebellum is involved in muscle coordination, balance and movement.
Dani went for surgery and was to start Chemotherapy shortly after however, he got an infection that put that on hold. He was also supposed to have a stem cell transplant which was cancelled to put in a shunt. Following that, the decision was made to start radiation. Dani went through 6 weeks of radiation in 2020.
In January 2021 Dani was supposed to go for the stem cell transplant however, that was cancelled as the MRI showed no change from the radiation treatments. Decisions at that time were to provide Dani with the best home palliative care possible as further cancer treatments were no longer available to help Dani.
Dani is in palliative care now at home where his mom and dad are doing all they can to ensure he has the most amazing days while making great memories and creating big smiles!
Jim and I started our planning immediately on February 18. I wont lie, sometimes when Jim starts to go into plan mode as fast as he does it can be scary for me. His ideas are grand and go beyond where my mind can go. He starts making calls immediately and I can see the passion in his plan just through the smile in his eyes and the tone of his voice. It was at that moment the Hot Wheels Hunt for Dani idea was born. A very special parade of hot wheels of any shape and size just for Dani. We would collect hot wheels toys for Dani so he could focus on the moments of play and happiness each day while his mom and dad could remember the special memories of his special cars and gifts. Ready, Set, Plan!
As Dani has his good days and tough days we planned on doing a drive by parade so if it was a bit of a tough day or overwhelming he could be comfortable in a familiar place. We planned to go review the site surrounding Dani’s home that following Sunday to see if this is something we could do. I am very glad we did as that drive created new friends because of that day that I am sure we will have for the rest of our days.
What started then was a whirlwind. Calls to Chandos construction across the road to see if the road was open on weekends, calls to friends with cars, facebook posts on Chase The Cure YEG and our own pages and sharing where ever we could. We gathered volunteers to help us at the parade and to also help us hand out flyers to the homes in his area. We knew we would have a lot of cars and would need to let neighbours know as we would tie up the street for a period of time. When we do our events we not only think of our families we work with but those we may impact around us. We delivered almost 200 flyers in 15 minutes! Our volunteers are amazing to say the very least. We could not do what we do without them.
A call from Chandos came in a couple days later. I had a great conversation with a gentleman named Rob who is the Sr. Site Superintendent of the construction project. They wanted to get involved and help out. They offered us parking space, put up a collection of hot wheels toys and also collected monetary funds to assist the family in some of their upcoming expenses.
Fast forward to the Thursday before the event. Pick ups took place at amazing business’s who offered to help collect toys or had their own donations from their teams.
Friday came around and we were ready to go. Toys all sanitized and packaged up, posters made and final updates posted.
Saturday morning, we loaded up and headed out. First stop Firehall 28 to pick up a colouring book and hat then off to Creekwood Convenience and Pizza to pick up their donations and finally at the site.
We along with our volunteers stopped at Dani’s home to let them know we were there. We gave Dani a special bag from us. He wanted to open the toys so bad! The smile on his face was huge, ear to ear doesn’t even begin to explain it. Our volunteers decorated his home better than any party we have ever seen!
Along come the cars and line up begins, we hit our corners with the signs and started lining the cars up. We had everything from monster trucks, luxury sports cars, Hot wheels trucks and your every day drivers. We had some special guests show up such as the City of Edmonton Police Tactical Unit and more, we could not ask for a better group!
Delores and Hailey, 2 of our volunteers a cash donations. The Chandos team donated $1250.00 and through the week prior and the day of the event we were able to raise $1498.50 for a grand total of $2748.50. Chandos really stepped up and helped us more than we could have ever asked for.
Delores and Hailey, 2 of our volunteers added up the total for the cash donations. The Chandos team donated $1250.00 and through the week prior and the day of the event we were able to raise $1498.50 for a grand total of $2748.50. Chandos really stepped up and helped us more than we could have ever asked for.
A beautiful thing we saw happen was 3 family members got to enjoy a few moments of the day without thinking about what was going on health wise. Family supported from the sidelines and they got to see their village grow 10 fold. People who had never been a part of anything like this before heard about it though our advertising and started a go fund me which since this event has raised over $27,000 to help this family be able to stay home with their little man and make as many memories as they can during this time.
Fast forward to this weekend. We paid a visit to Dani and his family to deliver some things that had come in for him. Dani is an amazing little guy. His smile is one that makes you want to smile. His mom and dad, Delila and Damir are pillars of strength that support each other all the while being the pillars that Dani can hang on to when he needs it.
This event couldn’t have happened without the following people. You are all part of our family and always there for us. Thank you!
Delores and Hailey
Rob Liber – Chandos Construction
Wes, Linda and Robert Dryer
All our cars and drivers who participated in the parade
OK Tire on 17th St.
Creekwood Convenience and Pizza
West Edmonton Auto Service
City of Edmonton Tactical Team
City of Edmonton Fire Hall 28