A pint-sized Edmonton boy found himself the recipient of an all-you-can-grab three-minute toy shopping spree Wednesday morning.
John Plante was diagnosed with a neurological disorder known as Williams syndrome. Since then, his family has endured many challenges.
“It was a diagnosis that nobody wants,” John’s mother, Diane Plante, said. “But once you have it, you learn to embrace it and you learn to enjoy the journey that you are then on.”
One of the first organizations the family reached out to was Starlight Children’s Foundation Canada. The non-profit assists seriously ill children and their families through partnerships with more than 160 hospitals across the country.
The three-minute toy dash is made possible through a partnership between the foundation and Toys “R” Us Canada.
“For the last 18 years, we have had a partnership with Starlight and we’ve raised $16 million,” Melanie Teed-Murch, president of Toys “R” Us Canada, said. “It’s a really fantastic charity and it touches and envelopes the entire family – from diagnosis right through their treatment.”
For the Plante family, that kind support has been invaluable. They have attended a number of Starlight events, including the Great Escape program, which organizes trips to movies as well as other types of outings.
Their involvement with Starlight has also offered many opportunities to meet other families faced with similar situations.
“Since John was diagnosed with Williams syndrome, it’s been a long five and a half years, but it’s a journey we wouldn’t ask to not have,” John’s father, Greg Plante, said.
“We’ve been able – through Starlight – to meet that community and to become part of something bigger than what we are.”
John is one of seven dash recipients across the country. On Wednesday, he was given the chance to head out into the aisles alongside his brother to snap up as many toys as they could in three minutes. At the very top of that list: A Despicable Me Fart Blaster.
“He’s been wanting that fart gun for the last two years,” his mother said with a chuckle.
The eager six-year-old was able to fill up multiple shopping carts with Lego and other toys – fart blaster included.