New York City is a long way from Golden, but when the Make a Wish Foundation asked 16-year-old Christina Heinzer where she wanted to go, she knew the answer.
“They came to the house and did an interview, asked her where she wanted to go. They were somewhat shocked because usually kids her age like to go to Disney World, things like that. And here she was, asking to go to Canada,” said Christina’s dad, Peter Heinzer, who made the trip to Canada with her.
Christina, who has been coping with a diagnosis of Ewings Sarcoma, has been interested in wild animals her whole life, with a particular fascination for wolves.
“I’ve always liked wild species of dogs and cats,” said Christina. “So I really wanted to see wolves in Canada.”
“We talked about it, I said ‘where do you want to go for your make-a-wish trip.’ She said she wanted to go to Northern Lights Wolf Centre in Golden Canada,” said Peter, who had never heard of the place before.
But Christina knew what she wanted, and did all the research herself to find the Northern Light Wolf Centre. While at the centre she got to play with a couple wolf puppies, before heading out on a hike to walk with the wolves.
But before heading to the wolf centre on Monday July 23, Christina and Peter took a drive up to Kicking Horse Mountain Resort to visit Boo the bear.
“That was the first time I’d seen a grizzly bear,” said Christina.
“It was great, just beautiful country up here,” said Peter.
After leaving Golden, the pair will head to Calgary for a special visit to the Calgary Zoo. They have arranged for Christina to feed some of the animals there. And if there’s time, they might make a trip up to Drumheller to see the dinosaur capital of the world, before heading back to their home just outside of Manhattan.
Christina has had a trip she will not soon forget.
“She was telling me as we were driving over the highway, she said ‘Dad, you wouldn’t mind if I wanted to live here would you?'” said Peter.
Christina’s wish was granted by the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Suffolk Country, assisted by Make-A-Wish BC who is helping with local arrangements. Make-A-Wish BC assists with approximately 20 wishes a year for kids who want to visit B.C. for their wish.
“Sixty-two per cent of our wish assists this year are tourism related as B.C. is a tremendous draw for people around the world. Whether it’s to see wolves or Orcas in the wild, go salmon fishing or skiing, wish kids and their families love to visit B.C.,” said Ross Hetherington, Executive Director for the BC Chapter.
Since 1983, Make-A-Wish BC & Yukon has made almost 1,500 wishes come true for kids battling a life-threatening medical condition.