At first glance, Magnum seems like any other ordinary five-year-old boy. He likes playing Angry Birds, his favourite Disney character is Lightning McQueen and he enjoys reading Dr. Seuss. But once you meet him, you quickly realize that Magnum is anything but ordinary. His ear–to-ear smile is infectious and lights up a room, and he has the kind of laugh that, when you hear it, you’re reminded of what pure joy really is.
That joy also abounds when Magnum talks about his recent trip to Disneyland as the Keystone & Project Development 2014 wish child. His eyes light up as he talks about taking Padawan Jedi training and battling Darth Vader.
But it hasn’t always been smiles and laughter for Magnum. He was born with a rare congenital heart defect called Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome. This affects normal blood flow through the left side of the heart, leaving it under-developed. While the right side will continue to pump blood to the lungs and the rest of the body, it becomes harder for oxygen-rich blood to get to the rest of the body because the heart is working at half-capacity. It’s for this reason that Magnum was chosen to be the 2014 Keystone & Project Development wish child through the Children’s Wish Foundation.
Magnum’s parents found out about his congenital heart defect before he was born. His condition required him to be in the hospital for the first month of his life and he has since undergone three open heart surgeries over the first few years of his life. At just 13 days old, he underwent his first open heart surgery, requiring him to be in recovery for 13 days. At six months old, Magnum had his second open heart surgery, requiring six more days of recovery. He then underwent a third open heart surgery when he was three-and-a-half years old. It was during this recovery time that the family received the call that Magnum would be granted a wish through the Children’s Wish Foundation, supported through the Keystone & Project Development team at TransCanada.
Heather, his mother, chokes up as she recalls getting the news about Magnum becoming a wish child. “When we got that phone call in the hospital that Magnum was going to get a wish . . . we were already in there for a month, and there were so many post-op complications and we were preparing for a fourth surgery to fix complications, but that phone call to say he was going to get a wish was something really good after everything we’ve been through,” says Heather.
For Nancy Fong, director, project services, Keystone & Project Development at TransCanada, it’s moments like these that reward a year’s worth of fundraising efforts. “Over the past year, the Keystone & Project Development team held a variety of fundraising activities including a silent auction, potluck lunches, 50/50 raffles and Stampede breakfasts. I’m so proud of our team and TransCanada for granting Magnum’s wish. Just look at that smile, that’s all the reward that we need,” says Fong. The team raised over $10,000 to grant Magnum’s wish. That money was then matched through TransCanada’s Empower program, bringing the total to almost $21,000.
“The Keystone & Project Development team and TransCanada have been a remarkable addition to the Children’s Wish family. It is so wonderful to see how deeply they care about our wish children, and how hard they work to grant their wishes,” says Elisha Jackson, manager, Resource Development, Children’s Wish Foundation. “Companies like TransCanada are the exact reason why I love Exile Island so much . . . they rally behind that child and make him/her feel like the most important child in the world. Our wish children certainly deserve to feel that way.”
Heather is extremely grateful for the opportunity for the family to get a wish granted. “Magnum was so spoiled. He received gifts every day on the trip from the Wish Volunteers. It was so special to go to a place that is so focused on not talking about anything medical, but focused on giving Magnum a great experience,” says Heather. “It shows that so many people care about the kids. It’s the complete opposite of everything we’ve been through with all of the stress and challenges over the last few years.”
With help from companies such as TransCanada, the Children’s Wish Foundation has never refused an eligible child a wish, and they don’t have a waitlist. Each year, there are over 1,200 wishes granted nationally, tallying over 21,000 to date. That amount of happiness is almost immeasurable. This incredible legacy relies solely on the support of the community and companies like TransCanada.
Magnum is now doing great. His mother hopes that all the surgeries are behind them, but there is still a chance that he may need a transplant or pacemaker in the future. For now, Magnum is enjoying kindergarten, being a five-year-old boy and continuing to practice and study the way of the Jedi.
Learn more about employee giving and volunteering through TransCanada’s Empower program.