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Jackson gets his dream: to swim with dolphins in the Bahamas

November 26, 2014   ·   0 Comments

For nearly 30 years, The Sunshine Foundation of Canada has been making dreams and wishes come true for children in Canada with severe disabilities and life-threatening illnesses. On Saturday, they officially granted Jackson Ferguson’s wish, to swim with dolphins in the Caribbean.

Although at first glance, Jackson is a normal, healthy, cheerful seven-year-old Orangeville boy, missing his two front teeth, and with a smile that could light the room, he lives with a disease called Hydrocephalus. That means there is an excessive amount of cerebral spinal fluid that builds up in Jackson’s brain.

He was diagnosed at the age of four months, and received his first shunt at six months. Since then he has had eight brain surgeries for revisions to the shunt, but has been able to live surgery-free for the last three years.

“It’s still a little surreal that this is happening,” said Tammy Trimble, Jackson’s mother. “I didn’t really want to put an application forward because he is a healthy, happy kid, and he gets to do a lot of things that most kids in his position don’t get to do. But then I thought, my child is no different and he deserves to have something other kids get.”

While Hydrocephalus is quite common, with one out of every 500 children born in Canada having it, Jackson’s particular case has been a rare one. Typically, the excess spinal fluid is associated with Spinal Bifida or brain tumors, neither of which Jackson has.

“In most cases, they know what causes it, but in Jackson’s case, they don’t,” explained Ms. Trimble. “It’s more common now, and for me it’s a struggle that it’s not talked about more, not advertised or advocated for. It’s difficult to see that it’s not a topic of conversation at prenatal classes or when people get pregnant.”

Despite his diagnoses, Ms. Trimble tries to make sure that Jackson has the chance to live as normal a life as possible. He plays sports, including hockey, spends time with friends, and other activities children his age participate in.

“It’s something he’ll have to live with for the rest of his life, but it doesn’t stop him from being able to live his life,” she said. “I don’t put him in a bubble; I let him live like he’s a normal kid, because this is going to be there regardless of what his activity level is.”

It’s for that reason that Ms. Trimble was skeptical about submitting an application, but after thinking about it, she realized that she wanted her son to have the chance that other kids in his position might get through the Sunshine Foundation Dream program.

“This isn’t something that I would be able to provide Jackson with, so having his wish granted is incredible,” she said. “This is a dream come true for him, to be able to do something that is fun and exciting, and not be stuck in a hospital. It’s just been an emotional roller coaster ever since we got the news, but it has been good.”

Jackson’s dream, presented to him on Saturday at Winners in Orangeville, was to swim with the dolphins in the Bahamas.

“I’m very happy,” said Jackson at the event. “I’m looking really forward to swimming with the dolphins. I love the idea of swimming with dolphins because I’ve never swam with them before.”

He added that he loves dolphins because they are very cool; they have skin and a flipper, and they never have to stop swimming.

Winners and HomeSense, which are part of the TJX Brand, are partners with the Sunshine Foundation, and have helped raise $70,000 for the program since the beginning of their partnership. Members of the Winners and HomeSense teams helped present Jackson with his dream, along with a number of gifts for himself and the family members that will accompany him.

Along with both his mother and father, Jackson’s grandparents will also join him in the Bahamas for the adventure with the dolphins, and they are set to fly out later this week.

“Jackson deserves to have something good happen to him,” said Ms. Trimble. “He had two solid years of being in and out of the hospital because of surgeries, and it was really difficult for him. It’s just so incredible to see him granted his wish, and we’re very excited.”


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