DARTMOUTH – Family, friends, community members — and even two hockey stars — came together on Wednesday to help a 7-year-old Dartmouth boy create special memories with his family this summer.
Bryan Carroll has been fighting leukemia for more than a year and doctors have said his prognosis is not good.
He can’t leave home often so he spends a lot of time with his family in his yard. His father mentioned off-hand recently that the backyard needed some repairs, and that’s what put the wheels in motion.
Friends started a Go Fund Me page to raise money for a backyard makeover. Four days later, dozens of volunteers had joined in the effort with materials provided by local businesses.
WATCH: Crosby and MacKinnon get into some waterfight fun as they visit 7-year-old Bryan
“Everybody here just wanted to do something,” said family friend Leanne Christie, who started the online campaign.
“We were all searching for something that we could do and this was born and here we are.”
For about five hours, volunteers young and old went to work — laying sod, painting, cutting tree branches, putting together furniture and planting flowers.
Bryan’s family was unaware of the busy work in their backyard; they spent the day travelling by train in a private car because Bryan loves trains.
Volunteers rushed to complete the transformation.
“[I think he’ll be] surprised. Very, very surprised,” said Bryan’s best friend Sam Ruginski, 7, just before he picked up a shovel to join in the work.
“I hope they get to enjoy every minute they can outdoors in a beautiful backyard oasis and not have any worries or any responsibilities to getting it done. We’re going to get it done for them,” said Sam’s mother, Melissa.
By 3 p.m., the backyard was complete. A new fire pit stood in the middle — surrounded by chairs, a hammock and a whole chest of Legos, water guns and toys.
Bryan, his sister and his parents returned home and walked into the yard with large smiles on their faces.
“To come home to this – it’s fantastic,” said his father, Sean.
“It just means it’s something that I don’t have to worry about anymore. My son — that’s what’s most important and enjoying the time we have left with him.”
Bryan remained shy as he thanked the volunteers who worked on his yard but it was easy to see how much he enjoyed the transformation.
That’s especially true when two special guests arrived.
Hometown hockey heroes Sidney Crosby and Nathan MacKinnon paid the family a visit after volunteers left.
The two NHL players chatted with the family, toured the yard and even played with the water guns for a while.
Meanwhile, the Go Fund Me page will stay up until Friday. All money raised will be given to Bryan’s family.