The Believe in Wishes Train Ride started almost like any other — with a conductor checking golden tickets.
Hot chocolate, dancing elves, and a visit from one jolly guest made the ride like something out of the movie The Polar Express.
Seven-year-old Summer said her favourite part was “all of it.”
But that was before she got her special surprise.
Unlike the one on the Polar Express, this train ride was a fundraiser for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Every ticket was a donation to help grant the wishes of children in New Brunswick with critical illnesses.
“This is the most magical day of the year,” said Sandi Hancox, director of the New Brunswick chapter of the foundation.
Summer got the first hint something was out of the ordinary when, halfway through the trip, Santa Claus arrived in her train car and read a poem specifically for her. Then, a group of children and elves handed her presents. Finally, she got her wish — she’s going to Disney World.
“It’s going to be really fun,” she said.
The trip to Disney will be a welcome relief for Summer, who lives with cystic fibrosis.
“Summer has to take a lot of medications, a lot, and it’s hard,” said her dad, Frank Soucy.
He said the Make-A-Wish program has granted Summer everything she wished for.
“It means a great deal that Summer and the children can go and enjoy themselves and have a great time,” he said.
Hancox became emotional when she was asked about getting to grant children their wishes.
“It’s a transformative process for them in their healing journey, and through the wish journey itself,” she said, adding she’s honoured to be a part of that journey.
In sharing his gratitude, Soucy offered words of advice to other parents.
“If you have an ill child and things like that, I think (you) should definitely get in touch with the Make-A-Wish foundation,” he said.