Friday, June 4, 2010

A True Champion Child

In 2004, shortly after I had joined the IWK Foundation team and was knee deep in my first Telethon, I had the honour of meeting Spencer MacKay and him mom Rebecca. Spencer wheeled up to me and introduced himself while presenting a donation in the Gallery. We had a few laughs and I was immediately touched by his very special spirit. Spencer has a way of making the world smile. I am serious! This kid can light up a room and bring a smile to the grumpiest of faces. He has such a quick wit and you can’t help but be attracted by his optimism.

In 2005, Spencer was chosen as the IWK’s Champion Child and I got to accompany the family on the Ottawa portion of the Celebrations. During that time, I watched as the other children followed Spencer around and were all drawn to him. Where ever Spencer went, there were at least 5 or 6 others following his lead. Spencer would laugh and make jokes about how he was “da bomb” when I teased him about all the girls who wanted to hang out with him. At the time he was 10 and had just passed the “girls have cooties” stage.

One night, Rebecca and I shared a cup of coffee in my hotel room. Rebecca was in serious need of some girl time and I was intrigued by the incredible strength that she showed every day. She told me about Spencer’s birth and how doctors prepared her and the rest of Spencer’s family for the worst. You see, Spencer was born with a rare form of dwarfism, as well as other health complications. Rebecca was told that he would likely not live past the first three months of his life. Instead of living each day with dread, Rebecca chose to celebrate Spencer’s life. Each and every month she had a birthday party with cake and decorations to celebrate his presence in the world. She never gave up on him and she always encouraged everyone around Spencer to be positive and rejoice his life.

As time passed, Spencer grew stronger, showing that he would have a life beyond the walls of the IWK. After spending 18 months in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at the IWK, Spencer was finally able to go home with his mother and family. While things are not perfect, Spencer continues to persevere against the challenges that he faces with his health. He has undergone many surgeries to help him live a full and active life.

In 2008, Spencer showed up at the IWK Radiothon and bragged that he had something to show me. Without any hesitation he climbed down from his chair, grabbed his walker and strutted across the Parker Reception Room. I was in tears I was so excited! I was thrilled to hear that all day Spencer had been asking his mom when they could come in to show me!

Working at the IWK, I have a lot of opportunities to meet incredible people and amazing kids and some of them grab a hold of your heart and never let go. I think everyone on staff has “a kid”. Spencer is my boy and continues to inspire and amaze me.

A few weeks ago we ran into Spencer at a local restaurant. He begged to take Austin for a ride on his chair. I told him that my boy was still a bit too small to go cruisin’. Spencer looked up at me with a look of concern on his face “I thought I was your boy…” Melt my heart! Of course I quickly explained that he most certainly was my boy and that I adored him and nothing would ever change that. He then said that he didn't mind sharing me with Austin.

Just a couple of days ago  Spencer was awarded the Premier's Award for Positive Change. He acknowledged for his advocacy work as a Children's Miracle Network Champion Child for the IWK and also for his 'unofficial ambassadorship' at his school at Park West, where he takes new students under his wing, and his feeding the homseless by participating in Sunday Suppers. The Premier's Power of Positive Change Award was launched September 2008 in recognition of two Nova Scotia high school students who caught the public's attention with a pink t-shirt crusade in support of a bullied student. Every year 10 Nova Scotia students are honoured and it does not surprise me one little bit that Spencer made his way onto this distingushed list!


I know this is a bit of a long post but Spencer deserves some devoted time and space. For the first time ever CMN has selected a Canadian child to be featured in a special story to air on Telethon this weekend. The story will be introduced Dr. Oz and, you guest it, will star none other than my boy Spencer! Grab a Kleenex and follow this link. I guarantee that spending just 5 minutes with this courageous, amazing kid and his awesome family will forever change your life!

1 comment:

  1. Lisa, thank you so much for sharing Spencer's story. I am truly touched and inspired by this young man.

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