After being diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumour at the age of four, it’s safe to say that Talia’s early life has had some challenges.
From countless hospital stays to times of complete isolation during treatment and surgery, Talia (now six years old) has missed out on many opportunities to enjoy just being a kid.
This year, in an effort to provide the Langley girl with a chance to create much-needed positive memories away from the hospital, Toys ‘R’ Us, Canada in partnership with Starlight Children’s Foundation Canada, will be gifting her with a 3-Minute Dash through the new Toys ‘R’ Us store at Willowbrook Shopping Centre.
The shopping spree happens Monday, Sept. 25, at which point Talia and her family will have the chance to race through the store to fill their shopping carts with as many free toys as possible within the three-minute timeframe. Organizers hope it will provide a fun-filled escape away from the hospital, and this little girl’s daily struggles with illness.
Fair to say that she’s expected to make a brief stop in the Barbie aisle come shopping day.
Why? Because throughout her ongoing chemotherapy treatment (over 85 weeks), Talia liked to keep her spirits up with dancing, singing karaoke, and swimming. A Barbie fan through and through, Talia loves anything pink or purple, and can often be caught listening to her favourite musical artists Megan Trainor and Bruno Mars.
The 3-Minute Dash program, now in its fourth year, is donated by Toys ‘R’ Us as part of their long-standing partnership with Starlight and will take place in eight cities across the nation this fall: Langley (of course), Ottawa, Montreal, St. John’s, Edmonton, Calgary, Toronto, and Winnipeg.
Each dash recipient was randomly selected as part of a contest Starlight held earlier this summer, in which families were asked to share the details of their child’s care journey and submit them to their local Starlight programs coordinator for entry, explained says Starlight executive director Brian Bringolf.
“At Starlight, we see first-hand the daily struggles and challenges Canadian families face when caring for their seriously ill child,” Bringolf said.
“Programs like the 3-Minute Dash are at the heart of our organization, providing us with the unique chance to bring welcome distraction and a genuine smile to the faces of deserving children like Talia.”
During the past 19 years, Toys ‘R’ Us and Babies ‘R’ Us continues to be one of Starlight’s most involved and valuable partners, Bringolf said.
Through in-store and online campaigns, 3-Minute Dashes, the Starlight Gala event sponsorship, and donations to in-hospital, neonatal care and out-of-hospital programs, they have donated $17 million to Starlight and have been extraordinary advocates in the community about Starlight’s work.
“Hope and laughter, entertainment and distraction, comfort and support are an integral part of the circle of care and make a real difference to the quality of a seriously ill child’s life. We hope our event brings Talia and her family much fun and excitement as our team members proudly welcome them to our Langley dash,” said a Toys ‘R’ Us vice-president, Mary Hewton.
This year, in addition to the 3-Minute Dash, Toys ‘R’ Us has also helped sponsor:
• 85 hospital grants – Monetary funding to support distractive entertainment for hospitalized children.
• 10,500 ER admit kits – A variety of care products for children and parents during unexpected hospital stays.
• 7,000 baby and toddler fun kits – Cuddly toys and games to distract very young children during unpleasant hospital stays.
• 100 Starlight treasure chests – A box filled with toys and surprises, used by children during appointments at the hospital or clinic.
• Baby resources for hospitals program – Supplying easy to sanitize crib mobiles and activity centers along with special infant seats to cover 100 Neonatal Intensive Care Units and Pediatric Intensive Care Units across Canada.
• First Nations resource program – A pilot project distributing 900 books and literature promoting Native and Inuit culture to pediatric hospitals serving the First Nations Community.
Starlight Children’s Foundation Canada is part of Starlight’s global network, serving seriously ill children and their families through partnerships with more than 160 health care facilities.
During the past 25 years, Starlight has become a leading global charity that partners with experts to improve the life and health of kids and families around the world. Collaborating with innovators in pediatric health care, entertainment, and technology, Starlight provides a unique blend of family-centered programs and services from hospital to home.