Loosening purse strings for Children’s Wish Foundation

    Matthew LeBlanc is surrounded by some of the purses that will be up for sale on April 6 at the Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre.

    PORT HAWKESBURY: As one local family returns home from a trip of a lifetime, the folks who made that trip possible are looking forward to a fundraising event that will allow them to grant even more wishes.

    “On April 6, for the very first time in Port Hawkesbury, we’re doing the ‘Wish Upon a Purse’ event,” said Cathy Sutherland, development coordinator of the Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada’s Nova Scotia Chapter.

    The event ran in Sydney for the last six years and close to $60,000 was raised.

    “We’ve been collecting new and gently-used purses,” she said. “People can drop them off at the Country Kitchen at the Hearthstone Inn or Vogue Optical in Port Hawkesbury.

    “We gather them, we clean them, we price them. And on April 6 at the Civic Centre, we’re going to display them for sale. All proceeds go to granting wishes.”

    The sale is going to be a big one, Sutherland said, noting that the event begins at 7 p.m. and admission is $12 at the door and $10 on-line (www.phcivic.com). Complimentary coffee/tea and sweets are provided.

    The Children’s Wish Foundation is a busy group, as no fewer than six local families are receiving wishes. Two were granted last year, resulting in one family visiting Great Wolf Lodge in Niagara Falls. A second family went on a shopping spree in Halifax. Three more families are currently mulling over the wish they’d like granted.

    Contributed photos
    Andy and Tonia LeBlanc are seen here with their sons Ben (left) and Matthew as they meet a couple of new pals from Toy Story.

    The LeBlanc family recently returned from Florida.

    “It was all of our first times going down to Disney World, and it was a great time,” said Tonia LeBlanc, the mother of Wish Child Matthew LeBlanc.

    “We were scheduled to go in October, but Matthew had gotten sick and ended up in the hospital before we were supposed to fly out, so on January 10 we went down.

    “We went for a full week and stayed at the Give the Kids the World Resort in Orlando. It was amazing – there were rides, a theatre, and ice cream parlor that was always open. It was a highlight of the trip for sure.

    “Children’s Wish took care of everything. We’d never have been able to do everything on our own. We just packed our bags and went.”

    The trip was a very pleasant outing for the LeBlancs, especially considering the last six years have been difficult for the family. Matthew and his twin brother Ben were born premature, and it was discovered that Matthew’s kidneys were failing during his birth.

    Dialysis started three days after his entrance to the world, and he remained on the treatment for the next 19 months. At that point, his father Andy donated him one of his kidneys.

    Woody from Toy Story gives Matthew LeBlanc a high five during a visit to Disney World.

    Tonia is happy to report Matthew is feeling pretty good these days.

    “He’s doing pretty good overall,” she said. “He struggles with lower kidney function, but he’s stable. Every three weeks, we go to Antigonish for bloodwork to monitor things, and every two months we go to the IWK for a check-up there. There’s also a kidney biopsy once a year, to make sure everything’s functioning the way it should.”

    The trip to Disney, she said, was a wonderful for all family members.

    “We went to Star Wars things for Ben, and the Avatar ride was amazing for us,” she said.

    “Matthew loves Toy Story. He watched it in the hospital for weeks upon weeks, so his wish was to meet Woody and Buzz from Toy Story. We did that on the third day we were there.

    “It was so nice to go from watching Toy Story in the hospital to being in Toy Story land at Disney.”

    The Wish Upon a Purse event will be a great way to support Children’s Wish in making additional wishes come through. With that, the foundation will have be selling Krispy Kreme Donuts in the near future. Visit the Nova Scotia Chapter on Facebook for details.