Fisherman's Harbour family heading to Disney with Make-A-Wish

By Lois Ann Dort

FISHERMAN'S HARBOUR – Brooks Cole is six years old and a Grade primary student at St. Mary's Education Centre. He has three older siblings. He likes the Disney show Wreck-It Ralph. He's like many other kids his age except for one very important thing -- he has a life threatening illness, a genetic disease called cystinosis. He was diagnosed with the rare condition shortly after his second birthday and has lived with the consequences of that diagnoses ever since. Some of those consequences involve frequent trips to the doctor and lots of needles. Life isn't always easy for Brooks and his family but thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation they are all soon going to enjoy a family vacation to Disney World, where Brooks will meet his favourite character Wreck-It Ralph. Brooks' mother, Ashley Jack, spoke to The Journal on Monday about Brooks and trip they are planning for next fall.


“He's pretty pumped about it for sure,” said Jack. Although the family has never all flown somewhere together before she is not worried about travelling so far from home. She said the other kids in the family are a big help with their younger brother.


The condition that Brooks suffers from is an uncommon genetic disorder, cystinosis, that prevents the kidneys from flushing out toxins from the body. This causes many detrimental effects on the body, most notably severe kidney damage. “He manages quite well...He is on a slew of different medicines and needles daily...He adjusts to it quite well...It has been a while that we have been dealing with it so we know how things go now,” she said.


Brooks' siblings are close in age and Jack said they get along very well and help him with his daily regime. “Anything they can do to help him out, to make his life easier...They are great with him and encourage him...They sit up with him everyday when he gets his needles and hold his hand...They are fantastic. We could not ask for better kids.”


As for being granted a wish for Brooks, Jack said that the idea just popped into her head one day and she filled out the application form. “They got back to me that day, within hours of submitting the application. They started the ball rolling...they got back to us within a month and told us the wish was granted. It was excellent.”


One of the many hands helping make light work for the Make-A-Wish Foundation is Larry's River resident Hazel Richard-McGrath. Richard-McGrath has been working for the Sheriff’s Department for over a decade. Four years ago the department decided to join with the Make-A-Wish Foundation to fundraise to grant wishes for children who live with serious medical conditions. Sheriff’s Department staff hold fundraisers—charity auctions, battle of the bands, charity hockey games -- to support the wish of a child, chosen by the Make-A-Wish Foundation, every year. This is the first year since the Sheriff's Department has partnered with the Foundation that the child chosen has been from Guysborough County.


“When I realized that the child we were fundraising for this year was from Guysborough County I was super excited,” said Richard-McGrath, noting that as of this week they had raised over $10,000 to go towards granting Brooks' wish.


“Everybody has been pitching in and everybody has been great...The Municipality of Guysborough and the Municipality of St. Mary's has donated stuff for the auction. I have had so many people coming forward to help; it has been amazing,” she said.


For Brooks and his family the vacation will be a wish come true. The people who support and volunteer for the Make-A-Wish Foundation are the unheralded heroes in the lives of these families. They are making a difference one child at a time.

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