By Adam Brazeau
CORNWALL, Ontario – In his battle against severe tracheomalacia, four-year-old Landon Martell will find plenty of inspiration from his favourite Disney character.
Martell’s wish to meet Mickey Mouse at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida will be granted this June.
Make-A-Wish Eastern Ontario representatives, with several local Tim Hortons store owners, made the announcement to Martell, and his family, on Thursday at the Tim Hortons location on Brookdale Avenue near Wal Mart.
Annie Stiles, Make-A-Wish coordinator, said the annual Tim Hortons Smile Cookie fundraising campaign in Cornwall last September made this possible. In just one week, over $25,000 was raised.
Martell, surrounded by his parents, TJ and Amy, and six-year-old sister Izzabell, was speechless as he unwrapped a slew of Disney-themed toys, most notably a Mickey Mouse mini electric car, before being told he would meet his hero.
The Martells will spend eight days and seven nights at Give Kids the World in Orlando, and will visit Universal Studios, Magic Kingdom, and SeaWorld, with their $1,000 in spending cash.
“I’m a little shaky, this is very exciting,” said Amy. “He’s quiet right now, but when we get home he’ll be bouncing off the walls.”
The disease Martell has been battling causes an abnormal collapse of the tracheal walls. For the first seven months of his life, he stayed at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. The next five months were spent in Ottawa at CHEO. His mother remained by his side the entire time, but it was impossible for the entire family to share the young boy’s first milestones.
“We feel lucky to be chosen. He spent the first year of his life in a hospital,” she said. “Now we can all get together and become whole again.”
Stiles praised the Seaway City for its love of Tim Hortons.
“Compared to larger cities who participated in the campaign, what Cornwall raised is spectacular,” she said.
As the Martells accepted their prizes, local Tim Hortons store owner Darryn McPhail was pleased to see the impact that selling a $1 cookie for seven days can make.
“Tim Hortons store owners in Cornwall enjoy giving back to the community and supporting various charities, but what differentiates the Smile Cookie campaign is the fact that it’s local residents who are giving back by buying the cookies. We’re just helping,” said McPhail.
The campaign was so successful that another local youth, ten-year-old Pierre-Alexandre Tourangeau who is diagnosed with leukemia and currently residing at CHEO, will also have his wish granted.
Make-A-Wish Eastern Ontario and volunteers will be uniting to give Tourangeau the Lego-themed game room of his dreams.