A 12-year-old boy, who is battling his second brain tumour, got to fulfill his dreams of piloting a plane on Monday.
Tyler Palmowski acted as first officer as a Flair Airlines 737 was taxied down the runway in Edmonton.
“We thought he was just going to sit in the cockpit,” said Tyler’s dad, Luke. “Tyler is a huge airplane enthusiast. He’s got a flight simulator at home and he was just practicing and practicing.”
Luke said his son could hardly sleep the night before because he was so excited.
“When me and my wife, Tanya, went to bed he shot up and said, ‘Is it time to go?’ He’s been looking forward to this for many days.”
“Flying an airplane” was part of Tyler’s bucket list and GoFundMe, created by his aunt to help the family check off as many items on the list as possible, while also alleviating medical expenses.
The fundraiser caught the attention of Flair Airlines employees, who quickly set to work putting together the experience.
Tyler was first diagnosed with a brain tumour back in 2015.
“It was a really rough go for him, but he was a trooper and fought really well. He ended up beating it,” said Luke.
Then, just under two months ago, Tyler started having trouble closing his left eye while on a trip to Mexico.
“Because of his history, he got an MRI at the Stollery Children’s Hospital. We came back for the results…and we were completely shocked. There was a new growth in his brain. It’s different than what it was before. It’s in the brain stem. It’s more challenging to treat.”
Tyler will start radiation on April 9, while the family explores options for clinical trials.
“Unfortunately, a lot of them are out of the United States. With the COVID-19 pandemic happening right now, it is more challenging to get into some of those.
“We are hoping and praying for a miracle right now.”
The family is trying to get as much of Tyler’s bucket list completed as possible, before treatment starts. The family is also practicing social distancing.
“We’re just waiting for things to get better in the world so we can start working on his list,” said Luke.
Tyler and his family have been touched by the amount of support pouring in from friends, family members and strangers.
“It’s not going to change what Tyler’s going through…but it does give us comfort to know there are people out there that are thinking of us.”