Wills Hodgkinson, the eight-year-old Penticton boy who was diagnosed earlier this year with a rare form of kidney cancer, is giving back to the B.C. Children’s Hospital, where he has been living for much of the year.
Wills is now appearing on posters for the Dream Lottery, one of the major fundraisers for the B.C. Children’s Hospital Foundation, supporting research to help care for the tens of thousands of kids that rely on the B.C. Children’s Hospital for specialized care.
Wills’ father Tim said the family — mother Neely Brimer and younger sister Scarlett — are happy to do anything they can to help the hospital, where a dangerously large Wilm’s tumour was removed from Wills’ kidney, and progress was made on lung tumours.
“Their care is second to none. I can’t say enough about the good people there,” said Tim, who is cautiously optimistic about the future.
Wills is still receiving treatment in Kelowna, but the family is now home and working on returning to a normal routine, including Wills getting back to school.
“Four of the eight tumours he had on his lungs are reduced to microscopic proportions,” said Tim, adding that the family is hoping for good news when Wills is next tested.
“We’re hopeful they are going to be reduced to a more manageable size.”
Coming home has raised Wills’ spirits.
“Being back with his friends has just done wonders,” Tim said. “He’s even back, to a limited degree, at football with the Pinnacles.”
Unlike most kids, Wills was looking forward to getting back to school this fall.
“Because he’s not been able to go to school, that’s the only thing he has wanted to do,” said Tim. “Just be one of the kids, just be normal.”
Wills isn’t quite normal, though. Since he has become the hospital’s poster boy, people have been recognizing him wherever he goes.
“Wills isn’t shy in coming forward,” said Tim. “People came up to him everywhere. He is happy to talk about the Children’s Hospital.”
It might have been back to school for Wills, but it was the starting school for the first time for his younger sister, Scarlett, who was going to the same school he started in. Wills took it on himself to give Scarlett the Grand tour.
“He is a very proud brother. They are very close,” said Tim.
The nightmare for Wills and family started in January when the boy started complaining of a severe tummy ache. Tim took him to Penticton Regional Hospital, where they discovered a tumour attached to his kidney.
When Tim called Neeley, her world stopped.
“He told me they had found a gigantic tumour. My body went numb. When I got to the hospital, I wanted to hug him but I needed to pull myself together first. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing,” she said.
When surgeons at the Children’s Hospital Teck Acute Care Centre went in to remove the tumour, they found it was so large, it had fused to other organs. Weeks of chemotherapy was required to shrink the tumour enough so that it could be removed.
But there was more bad news when doctors found eight tumours on Wills’ lungs.
Wills isn’t out of the woods yet, but things are moving in the right direction, and the family thanks the staff at Children’s Hospital.
“We have felt so taken care of,” Neeley said, adding that the staff at the hospital have also helped Scarlett. “Scarlett was in a safe environment with people who know what they are doing with a 2.5-year-old. I’ll always be thankful for that.”
Neeley said she’s also thankful for her son’s courage.
“He never gave into the sickness. He’s been so almost adult about it. His intellect has really blown me away during this. He’s my hero,” she said.
There are seven grand prize packages in total for the Dream Lottery. The grand prize winner can choose one of two homes located in Plateau (South Surrey), a home in Grandview Heights (South Surrey), a combined luxury home package located in Mount Pleasant (Vancouver) and Sorrento East by Pinnacle (Richmond), a home in Predator Ridge (Vernon), and a luxury residence in SookePoint (Vancouver Island), or $2.2 million tax-free cash. The largest grand prize package is worth more than $2.7 million.
Dream Lottery ticket prices are: three-packs for $100, six-packs for $175, nine-packs for $250 and 20-packs for $500. The lottery also includes extra games: the 50/50 Plus Lottery with a maximum prize payout up to $1,140,000 (depending on the number of tickets sold), and the Big Passport Plus Game with 101 prizes available to be won.
“The Dream Lottery Grand Prize home in Grandview Heights, South Surrey, is designed to deliver both comfort and wow factor,” said Erin Cebula, B.C. Children’s Hospital Dream Lottery spokesperson. “The home is over 5,000 square feet, with a grand chef’s kitchen, five bedrooms, theatre-style media room, sauna and an elevator. It really is a dream.”
Ticket sales for the 2018 Dream Lottery run until midnight, Oct. 12, and there are 3,157 prizes worth over $3.9 million.
Individuals can purchase their tickets online at bcchildren.com, by phone at 604-692-2333 or 1-888-887-8771, or in-person at London Drugs, Save-On Foods, PriceSmart Food, Urban Affair, BC Children’s Hospital, or at any of the grand prize show homes located in South Surrey.
Senior reporter, Penticton Western News
Email me or message me on Facebook
Follow us on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram