The mountains were calling, so Rocky Mountaineer with Starlight Children’s Foundation Canada answered! Last month, 13 families with seriously ill children joined Rocky Mountaineer on a life-changing 2-day train journey from Banff, Alberta to Vancouver, British Columbia. This dream experience through the breathtaking Canadian Rockies was generously donated by Rocky Mountaineer to give families the chance to connect, find their smiles, and create lifelong memories together.
Take a look at all the fun that was shared on this once-in-a-lifetime trip!
Starlight families across the country began their life-changing journey at their local airport, where round-trip flights generously donated by the Air Canada Foundation awaited to fly them to Alberta. For some kids like 10-year-old Blake, who lives with a brain tumour and severe bowel issues, this was their very first time on a plane!
Upon arrival in Banff, the adventure started a day early as the Starlight families were welcomed with a shopping spree to the local Ardene store, thanks to the Ardene Foundation. After filling their bags with whatever they wanted, they were ready to embark on this incredible journey ahead.
Aboard the train, sick kids and their loved ones found moments of joy while admiring the spectacular views of the west. Between competitive BINGO and trivia games, plenty of sing-a-longs with Captain Starlight and Lil John, and even make-it-yourself sundaes, children of different abilities and diagnoses formed special friendships to last a lifetime!
“One of my favorite parts was meeting the families, hearing their stories, and having that ‘wow, these people really understand me’ feeling that we are all missing in our daily lives,” shared Blake’s mom, Stacey. “Having a seriously ill child, and everything that goes along with it, is impossible to truly understand until the person lives it.”
Not only did this trip give Starlight kids plenty of fun and new friends, but it also gave them plenty of new experiences! Among the group was 7-year-old Marshall from Ontario who lives with a congenital condition that attacks his skeletal system. His ability to command a room was quickly noticed by Train Manager, Barry, who turned Marshall into an honourary member of the Rocky Mountaineer train staff for a day, complete with a manager’s jacket and walkie-talkie!
Meanwhile, 9-year-old Emmie from Alberta who lives with a syndrome that affects her facial appearance and causes narrow breathing passages, a high palate, a recessed mid-face, dental misalignment and more, was eager to help train staff in servicing customers onboard. Emmie had the chance to assist in serving food and drink orders, and was recognized by the Rocky Mountaineer team with a Swarovski crystal gift for all her hard work!
A very special thank you to the incredible team at Rocky Mountaineer and the Air Canada Foundation for providing dream trips and creating cherished memories for families who need it most, from coast to coast.
To help make more adventures like this possible, donate today at give.starlightcanada.org.