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Florence Caron, 15, received a sailboat

The Make-A-Wish® Foundation | Children’s Wish Canada makes one happy in Vaudreuil-sur-le-Lac

durée 10h30
10 juillet 2024
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Marie-Claude Pilon
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Par Marie-Claude Pilon, Journaliste

On Friday, July 5, 15-year-old Florence Caron saw her dream come true, thanks to the Make-A-Wish® Foundation | Children's Wish Canada. Néomédia witnessed this touching moment live from the home of Florence's grandparents, on rue des Ormes, in Vaudreuil-sur-le-Lac, at 4 p.m. 

The teenager, now officially cured of her non-lymphoblastic acute myeloid leukemia (AML), was diagnosed at the age of nine. The bubbly, smiling, lively teenager we met at Néomédia was a far cry from the sick girl who remained hospitalized for seven months at Hôpital Sainte-Justine following the verdict, undergoing treatment at the age of nine. 

A few days ago, she visited her grandparents' home, surrounded by her parents Simon and Maude and her brothers and sisters, to welcome John Gronan of Parallel 45 Marine, who had come to deliver a sailboat to her. A true enthusiast of the hobby, Florence's childhood dream was to own her own sailboat.  

"I discovered this hobby at the first sailing camp I attended at the age of eight on Lake of Two Mountains. The first day of the camp, there was almost a thunderstorm and it was quite windy. We did a lot of racing. It was really fun. I immediately loved the atmosphere at camp and the feeling I got on the sailboat and at camp. It was really cool. I wanted to have my own sailboat so I could move as fast as the other campers who have sailboats at home," says Florence, who will leave the boat in storage with her grandparents on Rue des Ormes. 

When it came to choosing her dream boat, Florence opted for something practical and, above all, durable. "I wanted something I could keep for the rest of my life. This will be the case. It's quite large, so I'll be able to use it even as an adult. A sailboat is also something that brings people together, in the sense that I'll be able to sail it with my little brother and sister. We can be together on the water. That'll be fun. I'll also be able to take my friends with me and let them discover my passion. I didn't want to choose something ephemeral like a trip or something else that I couldn't use in the long term," she added a few minutes after seeing her dream come true.  

Overcoming the disease one project at a time 

After her diagnosis, Florence spent seven months in a metropolitan hospital for treatment. Despite this, she refuses to see the experience in a negative light. 

"I see my time in hospital as a positive thing in my life, in the sense that my parents were there with me. I've seen children go through it alone. Personally, I think it was harder for the people around me than for me. A lot of people let their illness define their personality, and you have to stop doing that. On the contrary, you've got to keep making plans and not let it get you down."

Florence's mother, Maude Théorêt, points out that the treatments she received were so invasive that she was unable to attend school like the other children around her. After seven months in hospital, Florence had to undergo a further five months of chemotherapy at home. So it was several months before she was able to return to her schoolmates and friends. 

Despite this ordeal, the young woman refused to be discouraged. "It's extremely difficult for a parent to see their child fighting a serious illness like leukemia. And yet, as soon as I woke up, Florence would ask me to open the curtains, and she would make plans from morning to night. She was building catapults with tongue depressors (laughs). She was always thinking about a project," she says. 

How did Florence discover the Make-A-Wish® | Children's Wish Canada Foundation? Through the nursing staff at Hôpital Sainte-Justine, who asked her if she'd like to be put in touch with members of this organization. 

"I knew that organizations like this existed because Florence's uncle is quadriplegic and has seen one of his dreams come true. Personally, I didn't know about this Foundation. But while Florence was in hospital, Make-A-Wish® | Rêves d'enfants enabled her to dream and think about something positive when her daily life wasn't always rosy. It took her a long time to decide which dream she wanted to make come true (laughs). It was great to see her searching, dreaming and questioning. She was thinking positive thoughts all the while," she confided, as the teenager looked on approvingly. It wasn't until the age of 14, almost five years after her diagnosis, that Florence finally decided on her dream. 

Now that she owns her own sailing boat, Florence has a few other dreams in mind. "I'd like to take my friends to an island not far from here. Or, next year, with four friends from school, we'll go to Costa Rica where we'll do canyoning, which is a bit like reverse rock climbing. I really like sports that involve ropes (laughs)."

What job does Florence dream of doing? She can't say at the moment, but one thing's for sure: she loves history, marine biology and mammals found in the water, like whales. 

Over 300 dreams realized this year  

On hand to make Florence's dream come true with a volunteer from the Make-A-Wish® | Rêves d'enfants Foundation, Lauren Donnelly, Director of the organization's Quebec division, reminded us that the organization's mission is to make dreams come true for children aged 3 to 17 with serious illnesses across Canada. 

In 2024, the Foundation has 41 springboards, and its first branch was established in British Columbia in 1983. In Quebec, the Children's Wish Foundation and the Make a Wish Foundation combined their activities in 2019, as they both shared the same mission. 

To date, nearly 39,000 dreams have been fulfilled thanks to this organization. This year, more than 390 dreams in Québec were made a reality thanks to the organization and its network of partners. 

 "Nearly 80% of them are travel dreams. Since COVID, we had to slow down the realization of this type of dream due to health constraints linked to the travel industry. In recent months, things have returned to normal. Another popular dream is to meet your favorite celebrity. We have five categories of dreams that can be fulfilled: to go, to have, to become, to meet and to give," she says. 

When a child is referred to the Foundation, he or she is met by a volunteer to determine his or her interests and passions. The beneficiary is then matched with a dream coordinator who will ensure that the right partners are found to make the dream a reality. 

Where does the budget come from to make these dreams a reality? "Mainly corporate and individual donations. We receive no government assistance to carry out our mission. We also organize fundraising activities to raise money. We're also fortunate to be able to count on generous partners," she says. 

In addition to receiving her sailboat, Florence received a gift box filled with useful sailing accessories from the Foundation. She also received four-season clothing for her favorite pastime and several other accessories to enhance her outings on the water. 

Why did John Gronan of Parallel 45 Marine want to be part of Florence's dream? Because he was deeply touched by Florence's request. One of his nephews also suffered from leukemia and was lucky enough to see his dream come true. He wanted to give back to the next one in turn. 

Are we touched by Florence's story? If so, you can support the Make-A-Wish® | Rêves d'enfants Foundation via the Donate tab on the website at: https://revesdenfants.ca/donner. 

 

 

 

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