All aboard! This October, adventure called for 15 families with seriously ill children across Canada as they embarked on an epic 2-day train journey from Banff, Alberta to Vancouver, British Columbia. Generously donated by Rocky Mountaineer, this life-changing trip gave families the chance to let go of their everyday worries and instead create unforgettable memories together through the picturesque Canadian Rockies.
Check out all the fun that our adventurers experienced on board!
Starlight families began this experience of a lifetime by plane at their local airport, equipped with round-trip flights provided by Aeroplan and the Air Canada Foundation. For 12-year-old Sophie, who lives with hydrocephalus and mild cerebral palsy, the journey took her entire family from coast to coast, starting in New Brunswick and flying all the way to Alberta!
Once in Banff, a special surprise welcomed our Starlight families – a shopping spree at the local Ardene store, thanks to the Ardene Foundation! Complete with yummy snacks, photobooth souvenirs, and shopping bags filled with goodies, they were ready for an adventure to remember.
For the next two days, children of all diagnoses and abilities, along with their families, enjoyed a breathtaking trip through the mountains. From sharing delicious meals together to playing group games with Captain Starlight to making crafts with the Rocky Mountaineer team, shouts of excitement and plenty of laughter filled the train.
“It was healing for the heart and soul to connect with people who really understand and can appreciate the complexities of our day to day lives,” shared Jelica, mom of Starlight child, Gavrilo. “Having the opportunity to talk and share openly, for both the adults and kids, was priceless.”
11-year-old Gavrilo was diagnosed with leukemia at the age of 7. A usually quiet and shy boy, this experience gave Gavrilo the chance to simply be himself and connect with other kids who understand him. With precious moments shared with new friends, Gavrilo found much-needed comfort, hope, and confidence on board the Rocky Mountaineer.
“Having that opportunity to let everything go and just enjoy the time with each other was so rejuvenating,” shared Starlight mom, Stacey. Her son, 10-year-old Ethan, lives with a brain tumour.
A lover of trains, this once-in-a-lifetime adventure was a dream come true for Ethan! Between admiring the beautiful views and passing through long tunnels, Ethan was able to share something he loves with the people he loves. Meanwhile, his brother, Edward, found a new interest in nature photography. On board the train, he was able to capture different wildlife, including a deer, a black bear cub, and two large moose!
A heartfelt thank you to our friends at Rocky Mountaineer, Aeroplan, and the Air Canada Foundation for an unforgettable experience through the mountains and in the skies. The bonds formed and memories made will be held close in the hearts of Starlight families across the country.
While this adventure may be over, there is always another just around the corner. Help us continue to make positive experiences like this possible for children in need of a smile. Donate today at give.starlightcanada.org.