Ray of ‘Sunshine’


WESTVILLE – Emmett Francis was in tears as his class celebrated his upcoming trip to Disney World.

Francis, 9, was diagnosed with spina bifida during his mother Charmaine Smith’s first ultrasound.

Two years ago, he made a wish through the Sunshine Foundation of Canada which fulfills custom-made dreams for Canadian children living with severe physical disabilities or life-threatening illnesses.

“Emmett’s spinda bifida nurse suggested we apply for a wish,” explains Smith. “They make dreams come true for children with disabilities who otherwise might not have the ability to do that.”

Francis’ dream was to go to Disney World to meet Goofy, his favourite character.
Francis, along with brother Liam, his mom and a family friend, will be leaving Thursday morning for a week of spooky fun at Disney World.

Smith says this is an amazing thing for Francis.

“Spinda bifida affects people differently,” she explains. “With Emmett … he has limited sensation, trouble with fine motor skills, has bilateral club feet and hydrocephalus.”
Francis has undergone numerous surgeries for his feet and with the help of braces, can walk or stand for short periods of time.

Now a Grade 4 student at Walter Duggan Elementary School, Francis and his classmates celebrated his wish with cake on Monday.

“I had no idea this party was happening,” said Francis, who was so overjoyed he could barely speak.

While at Disney World, Francis and his family will visit Hollywood Studios, Epcot, Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom as well as take part in trick or treating at the Magic Kingdom on Halloween and attend Mickey’s not-so-scary Halloween Bash.

“Emmett knew he was going on the trip, it’s hard to hide things from him, but he didn’t know that his class would be celebrating. He loves Goofy and Star Wars,” explained Smith adding he is going to dress up as a Star Wars character while at Disney.

“Actually, I changed my mind,” he interrupted. “I’m going to be Snowball from the Secret Life of Pets.”

Francis said he was one million per cent excited about going.
“I never went to Disney before. I want to meet Goofy and the Muppets and Indiana Jones. I’m totally excited. This is really cool.”

Jo-Anne Ferguson, left, Emmett Francis’ Grade 4 teacher, presents him with a bag of gifts from the Sunshine Foundation of Canada with his mother, Charmaine Smith and brother Liam at his side. Francis was born with spina bifida and is having his dream come true to go to Disney World, thanks to the Sunshine Wish Foundation of Canada which makes dreams come true for children with disabilities or life-threatening illnesses.     (Harvie photo)

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