Thursday 12th December 2013 was one of the longest, most tiring, most amazing days of my life. With the 4am start and a day trip to Lapland (yes the real one!) it was a day to remember.
Elizabeth and I were lucky to be going on this fabulous day trip thanks to the wonderful people at When you wish upon a star. We were accompanied by around 100 other seriously ill children and their families as well as all of the amazing volunteers, the patrons and the celebrities. The day was packed from start to finish with smiles and When you wish upon a star had thought of everything. From the moment we arrived at the airport we were greeted by familiar faces from the Hospital nursing team and mascots from local football teams and public services.
Each child was given an autograph book to fill in during the day and after everyone was checked in we were whisked off through security and straight on to the plane. For some children this was their first time in a plane and for some of them were even lucky enough to go and sit in the cockpit with the pilots.
The plane was full of excited children and even more excited celebrities and once we were underway everyone was up having fun from singing Christmas songs, telling jokes or just sat watching the film with their headphones in the kids all had a brilliant time. On arrival in Finland we were transferred quickly to coaches and whisked off to a magical forest full of fantastic adventures from Reindeer pulled sleighs to Husky sledges, Skidoos, quad bikes and lots and lots of snow. We toasted marshmallows, build snowmen and drank hot chocolate. We watched Saracen and Captain Jack Sparrow have a snow ball fight and jumped in foot deep snow to make snow angels. Elizabeth’s Ski coat and trousers given to her by Aldi were perfect for all the playing in the snow and my thermal leggings and gloves given to me from Heatholders prevented me getting cold.
After a few magical hours in the most amazing snow I have ever seen and seeing some brilliant smiles on the faces of the children we jumped back on the coach to go for Lunch and to meet the Real Santa.
The day was fantastic but it also brought home so many realities that I didn’t want to think about. So many people that I know seem shocked when I mention that Elizabeth still had Chemotherapy and that her treatment doesn’t finish until next Halloween and I suppose it is because we don’t let it dominate our life but the reality is that it is still there. She is strong and she is a fighter and she has been lucky. Unfortunately not all of the children we know are as lucky as she is and spending this magical day with them knowing they won’t make it to Christmas 2014 was really emotional. One child we met at initial diagnosis who has fought so hard, endured so many procedures and harsh regimens, a child with the strongest parents in the world. Parents who smiled through their tears as they watched their child meet Santa, who watched them playing in the snow and who knew that this really was a once in a lifetime trip.
I suppose that I try to pretend that there is nothing wrong with Elizabeth so that we can get on with our lives and these parents are doing the same but for them the reality is so much worse, at least I know that the Chemotherapy that Elizabeth is on is working.
When you wish upon a star took us to Lapland but they also do so much more and I will be supporting them all through 2014 to help provide families of children with life threatening and terminal illnesses with some wonderful memories and some fantastic experiences. My first fundraiser was to send 50 Christmas Cards from the Arctic Circle back to children in the UK.
In 2014 I will be doing the Manchester 10k again for the third year in a row and I will also be raising money for When you wish upon a star at the Blog On Conference in May.
If you can think of any other great ways to raise money please let me know.