Eleven-year-old Carter Morrison walked proudly alongside Canadian flag-bearer Rosie McLennan during the 2016 Rio Olympic Games opening ceremonies.
The boy from Carlyle, Sask. was one of five Canadians selected through the Ronald McDonald House Charities to act as a tree-bearer during the Parade of Nations on August 5.
“It’s my home country and I got to walk out with them,” said Morrison.
Morrison was born with Achondroplasia, a form of dwarfism, and has been in and out of hospitals his whole life.
“Carter has sleep apnea and he had a compression of his central nervous system that was corrected when he was one,” Carter’s mother, Lisa Morrison, said.
“Early on with his neck was scary.”
Frequent trips to the hospital connected the Morrisons with the Ronald McDonald House. In May, the organization contacted the family, offering Carter the experience of a lifetime.
“When I first found out I was like, ‘am I really going?’,” recalled the eleven-year-old.
“This is, like, once in a lifetime and it’s the Olympics.”
Carter’s father, Trevor Morrison, accompanied his son to Rio de Janeiro and was able to witness the opening ceremony.
“I started to cry to be honest with you. You’re just speechless because you know what all went on to get here,” he said.
Carter and his father were able to spend time taking in the local sights, including the Christ the Redeemer statue and a Brazilian Carnival where Carter was named king.
When the pair returned to Carlyle, the eleven-year-old was welcomed by a parade and was asked to sign autographs.
He said the whole experience was one he would carry with him his entire life. It was also a reward for persevering through so much, added his mother.
“It’s just taught him that no matter what he does, no matter how difficult times can be, there’s always something to look forward to,” she said.