While our daytime journey was made special on the train, our evenings were spent in luxury at the Rocky Mountaineer partner hotels: the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver; Sandman Signature Kamloops Hotel; and Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise.
In Kamloops we found gifts from Toys’R’Us in our rooms, and we were served a truly Canadian meal that included poutine (no, I didn’t have any). The highlight of the evening was the clown. He approached our table moments after Griffin stated he is afraid of clowns, and it took about 30 seconds for that fear to turn into belly laughs. His sense of humour, silliness and magic tricks had the whole room grinning from ear to ear. My generally reserved Kellen was smiling and laughing and taking part in the tricks. He’s a bit of a magician himself, and I know he loves to see other magicians in action. It was a fun way to wrap up that evening.
Lake Louise was our last stop on the trip. A special evening was planned and we all gathered for appetizers and drinks. Rocky Mountaineer President and CEO Randy Powell rode the train with us on our second day. He’s a family man who clearly loves his job too, and we really enjoyed getting to know him a bit. Randy addressed the group during the evening and made a very special announcement. He shared the secret that we had been carrying around all along, that four of the children in the room would receive a wish from Starlight, courtesy of Rocky Mountaineer.
He announced each of the children by name: Tristan, Isabelle, Lauryn and Kellen. The moment was emotional and overwhelming. I’m not sure the kids really grasped what he meant because they all looked a little confused. Starlight’s Debbie came to the rescue and asked the other children to share the wishes they had been granted in the past. There were trips to Disney World and Disneyland, a meeting with One Direction, a NYC trip to be on the sets of a television show and a visit to a gaming convention in Boston.
Once they had all heard some new ideas, the four kids were invited to share their own wishes (with no obligation to stick with their first thoughts, of course). Lauryn wants to swim with the dolphins in Hawaii. Tristan would like to take a cruise to someplace warm. Isabelle thinks the Bahamas would be nice. Kellen would like to visit Pearl Harbour in Hawaii. They are all amazing wishes that the Rocky Mountaineer and Starlight Children’s Foundation are happy to grant.
We learned that Kellen would be assigned his own Wish Coordinator who will call us and help us through the process to make his wish come true. In the meantime, he can think about exactly what he is hoping to do and see. It is going to be a very exciting time!
Kellen has a strong interest in history and science, so the next surprise they had for us was almost as exciting as his wish. We were all invited to come together one last time on the following night to enjoy camp fires, s ’mores and star gazing with one of the members of the astronomical society. Kellen was very excited to see twin stars, the Milky Way and a nebula. It was a night made for him!
Our time in Lake Louise was spent enjoying the incredible views and mountains in the area. We rode a gondola up a mountain and wandered around in search of bears. Unfortunately, or fortunately… depending on your perspective, we didn’t see any. We did take in some breathtaking views and enjoyed a delicious lunch with two other Starlight families.
Kellen is a very quiet and reserved young man who doesn’t show his emotions easily. He stayed quiet and kept to himself for a lot of the trip, but when we ask him about it on our own he smiles and talks about all of the things he enjoyed. He was excited to see a cruise ship up close in Vancouver. He really liked the pontoon planes that we saw there too. He loved the mountains. He enjoys photography and took several pictures with his camera and iPod. Kellen rarely gets excited about food, but he loved being served ginger ale and sprite at his seat on the train. That is his special treat and it was nice that he could enjoy an aspect of the food and dining service.
The entire trip was a dream and we are extremely grateful to the Starlight Children’s Foundation and the Rocky Mountaineer for making it possible.