Amherst firefighters responded to call on Tuesday, July 26, 2022, that helped the Make-a-Wish Foundation kick off a trip of a lifetime for a young Amherst resident.
They rolled every piece of equipment they had on the call. When they pulled up in front of a Douglas Street home with their lights flashing, they were greeted by a beaming 10-year-old Liam, who has Tuberous sclerosis complex 2, a rare genetic disorder that causes benign tumours along vital organs such as the heart, lungs and brain.
He currently has 14 benign liaisons on has brain, all of which are inoperable. As a result, Liam has epilepsy, an anxiety disorder and is developmentally delayed.
Liam was accompanied by his parents, Tony and Brittany Huddleston, his sister Nova-Lee and a host of relatives and friends. His eyes widened and his smile increased as he looked over all of the fire trucks that were parked in his front yard.
Accompanying the firefighters were Selena MacDonald, Make-a-Wish Foundation’s Amherst sub-chapter co-ordinator and Tanya and Brianna Voss, whose son and brother, Connor, had his wish fulfilled by the foundation earlier this year. The trio brought with them balloons, a cake and many gifts for Liam, including a stuffed Roary the Lion, T-shirts and the plane tickets and itinerary for a week-long visit to the Toronto area early in August that is being totally supported by the foundation.
During the trip, Liam and his family will visit Ripley’s Aquarium, the Toronto Zoo and the African Lion Safari.
“The trip is going to be the most wonderful thing in the world for Liam,” his step-father said. “He’s really looking forward to it.”
“We want to give a big thank you to Make-a-Wish for making this happen,” added his mother. “We couldn’t have taken such a trip without them. We especially want to thank the volunteers from Make-a-Wish who came out tonight to present Liam with everything.”
The Vosses received huge hugs from Liam as he opened the many gifts presented to him and his smile was contagious when MacDonald presented him with the cake.
“My son had his wish fulfilled in March,” Tanya Voss said as she watched Liam hug a stuffed lion. “We wanted to participate tonight because we just wanted to give something back to the foundation. The Make-a-Wish Foundation is simply amazing. They go above and beyond to make trips like my son had and Liam is about to have a reality.”
Liam told the Vosses, MacDonald and the 16 firefighters on hand that he is looking forward to the trip, especially the excursion to the African Lion Safari, because “it looks cool and my favourite animal is a lion.”
Still, he couldn’t take his eyes off the fire trucks.
“I like No. 3, ’cause that’s the truck my dad is on,” Liam said, before pump-fisting every firefighter who came to help kick off his trip. “I want to thank the fire department because they do a lot of hard stuff.”
His parents also had high praise for the firefighters.
“It’s really nice to see all the support we’re receiving from them. To show up with all the trucks, to come here to help Make-a-Wish present the trip to Liam is amazing,” his mother said.
“To my wife and I, Liam is beyond important, both our children are,” his step-father added. “But to see all my peers from the department here tonight shows the camaraderie of our fire service. We are a brotherhood. Yes, he is our son, but they treat him as if he was one of their own as well. We’re always here for each other. That’s the way it’s always been.”
Fire Chief Greg Jones was humbled by the thanks.
“Our members are involved a lot in the community, but this is different because there is a connection this time to one of our members. We are always there to help each other out,” Jones said.
“But to see Liam’s smile tonight, that was priceless.”