PICKERING, ON, Sept. 12, 2013 /CNW/ - In 1984, The Children's Wish Foundation of Canada granted its very first wish to a young boy who wanted to meet Mr. T from the hit TV show 'The A-Team'. Now, almost 30 years later, Children's Wish will grant the wish of its 20,000th wish child with the help of the Toronto Blue Jays, when Kelsey Panton throws the ceremonial first pitch at the game against the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday.
After Kelsey was diagnosed with Burkitt's Lymphoma at the age of 16, trips from her home in Sudbury, Ontario to Toronto's SickKids Hospital to get chemotherapy became part of the family's regular routine. During one such hospital stay, Kelsey was offered tickets to go to an upcoming Blue Jays game. Although she knew very little about the game or the Jays, she gladly accepted any opportunity to get away from the hospital, even for a brief while.
She decided to watch a few games on TV before attending the game at Rogers Centre to become more familiar with the game and the home team. From that moment, an ardent Jays fan was born, and Kelsey would never miss a game if at all possible.
"Waking up in the hospital countless mornings I knew that I would have to receive chemo, but I also knew I would be able to watch the Jays play that day and immediately it took the dread of the day away and all I could think about was watching the boys play," wrote Kelsey in a letter to the Blue Jays. "I can honestly say that watching the Toronto Blue Jays helped take my mind off my battle."
In celebration of the significant 20,000th wish milestone, the Blue Jays are planning some additional surprises for Kelsey on Saturday.
"While superlatives are often used loosely, the work by Children's Wish to provide 20,000 wishes to such deserving children is truly an incredible accomplishment," said Paul Beeston, President and CEO, Toronto Blue Jays. "We are flattered and proud to host Kelsey and Children's Wish for this special first pitch on Saturday."
"It is very gratifying to witness the positive impact that a wish can have on a child like Kelsey and on an entire family," said Children's Wish CEO Chris Kotsopoulos. "It is even more gratifying to know that, with the support of our donors and partners like the Toronto Blue Jays, Children's Wish has had a similar impact on 19,999 other children and their families."
Saturday's Toronto Blue Jays vs. Baltimore Orioles game is scheduled to start at 4:00pm and will be broadcast on Sportsnet.
The Children's Wish Foundation of Canada
Each year, thousands of Canadian children between the ages of three and 17 are diagnosed with a life threatening illness. Since 1984, The Children's Wish Foundation of Canada has worked tirelessly to grant exceptional wishes to 20,000 children and their families.
This year, the Foundation expects to grant over 1,000 new wishes and is proud to have never refused a wish to an eligible child, and with the help of volunteers and generous donors, is able to grant nearly three wishes every day. Each wish is an individual adventure, carefully structured to meet the needs of a particular child and family. The Foundation is a national charity with chapters in every province and territory. Visit www.childrenswish.ca for more information.
Video with caption: "Video: Kelsey - The Children's Wish Foundation of Canada's 20,000th wish child ". Video available at: http://stream1.newswire.ca/cgi-bin/playback.cgi?file=20130912_C6780_VIDEO_EN_30785.mp4&posterurl=http://photos.newswire.ca/images/20130912_C6780_PHOTO_EN_30785.jpg&clientName=The%20Children%27s%20Wish%20Foundation%20of%20Canada&caption=Video%3A%20Kelsey%20%2D%20The%20Children%27s%20Wish%20Foundation%20of%20Canada%27s%2020%2C000th%20wish%20child%20&title=THE%20CHILDREN%27S%20WISH%20FOUNDATION%20OF%20CANADA%20%2D%20The%20Children%27s%20Wish%20Foundation%20of%20Canada%20teams%20up%20with%20the%20Toronto%20Blue%20Jays%20to%20grant%20its%2020%2C000TH%20wish&headline=The%20Children%27s%20Wish%20Foundation%20of%20Canada%20teams%20up%20with%20the%20Toronto%20Blue%20Jays%20to%20grant%20its%2020%2C000th%20wish
Image with caption: "Kelsey Panton, the 20,000th child to receive a wish from Children's Wish, will throw the ceremonial first pitch at Saturday's Blue Jays game (CNW Group/The Children's Wish Foundation of Canada)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20130912_C6780_PHOTO_EN_30781.jpg
Image with caption: "Kelsey Panton, the 20,000th child to receive a wish from Children's Wish, will throw the ceremonial first pitch at Saturday's Blue Jays game (CNW Group/The Children's Wish Foundation of Canada)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20130912_C6780_PHOTO_EN_30783.jpg
- Toronto Blue Jays