EDITOR’S NOTE: Global News originally reported that Kilgour was the first Indigenous student to attend this program, however, we have been unable to verify if that is the case. The U.S. Space & Rocket Center, home to Space Camp, Aviation Challenge and Space Camp Robotics, is the official visitor centre for NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center and has an unofficial partnership with NASA. Global News has updated this article to clarify that information.
For 12-year-old Delaney Kilgour, it all started with Lego.
The outpatient at the Stollery Children’s Hospital, born with a heart condition, would spend hours tinkering and building.
One of his nurses spotted his keen eye for building.
“He’s really bright. He was tested at school and he’s reading at a grade 11 level,” said Young. “The nurse told us she had heard of a program focused on engineering and robotics through the University of Toronto. So we collected bottles to raise money and he went to that summer camp.”
At the camp, he learned of the The U.S. Space & Rocket Center, home to Space Camp, Aviation Challenge and Space Camp Robotics. It is also the official visitor center for NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center and part of an unofficial NASA partnership. Co-ordinators asked Young if he could be registered for the program.
On Dec. 8, 2018, Delaney found out he had been welcomed to attend the summer camp for both Aviation Challenge and Space Camp Robotics.
“He’s very good at math, science and he’s always developing different things. He is an incredible child,” Young said. “He built Niagara Falls with Lego, the Taj Mahal, Big Ben — all by scratch. Just by looking at pictures.”
Young said Delaney lost a friend, just a year younger than him, to suicide.
“These last couple of months have been very up and down for us. I never expected him to get this far and this high with us. I don’t know what to say. I’m very, very proud of him,” Young said.
Delaney collected bottles, supervised recess for $2.50 and looked after pets — saving up for his spot in the program.
Beaver Lake Cree Nation is rallying to help the family raise the final funds.
“Everybody I know is excited. Even people I barely know. They say ‘cool, you’re going to space camp. Congratulations!” Delaney said.
“If we collect more than what is needed, I’ll put it in a savings account so we can continue even next year with his schooling. He wants to go to Harvard or UCLA because they have an excellent robotics program,” Young said.
Delaney already has big plans to help those close to him. One of Young’s friends, Eileen Beaver, lost her leg to diabetes and found it difficult to go outside in the winter, due to the iron in the prosthetic making it hard to walk.
On Saturday, he will be honoured at the Beaver Lake First Nations Pow Wow.
“They’re honouring him with an honour song and a Blanket Dance, which is the highest honour you can receive in any First Nations community in Canada,” Young said. “He wants to encourage young people and youth to continue their education.”
If you’d like to help the family reach their goal, , you can contact firstname.lastname@example.org.