Together with Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) Canada, one of eight WestJet Cares for Kids partners, WestJet has released a new video to celebrate Coach Dads and to highlight how Ronald McDonald Houses help keep families of sick children close. Click here to view the Coach Dad: A Father’s Day Surprise video.
The video puts the spotlight on Troy Hunt and his family from Clarenville, Newfoundland. After Troy’s 13-year-old son Darian was diagnosed with leukemia in November 2016, the family went to St John’s – nearly 200km away from their hometown – so Darian could undergo treatment. More than 70% of Canadians live outside a city with a children’s hospital, so when a child becomes sick, families often travel hundreds of kilometres to get the treatment and care their child needs. For 134 nights, the Hunt family stayed together at Ronald McDonald House Newfoundland & Labrador. In March 2017, Darian went to Toronto to undergo a stem cell transplant, donated by his father. Darian and his mum and dad moved into Ronald McDonald House Toronto, where they remain to this day as Darian continues his recovery.
“As fathers, we bond with our kids over the things we are passionate about. For Darian and me, one of those things is hockey,” said Troy. “He has been playing since he was in grade one and his best friends also play on the team. Watching Darian go through what he has, we know it’s difficult for Darian to be away from home and away from his friends and teammates.”
“For the past 10 years, WestJet has been committed to supporting children’s health and wellbeing through WestJet Cares for Kids,” said Richard Bartrem, WestJet Vice-President, Marketing and Communications. “We were so inspired by Troy and Darian’s story that we went to work with our WestJet Cares for Kids partner, Ronald McDonald House Charities Canada, to bring the Hunts and members of their extended hockey family together. Bringing a sense of normalcy and togetherness to the Hunt family, even if just for a moment, is what we aspired to do because WestJet owners care.”
“While Ronald McDonald Houses provide families with a caring place to stay while their child receives treatment at a nearby hospital, perhaps the greatest gift Ronald McDonald Houses offer families like the Hunts is the gift of time together,” said Cathy Loblaw, President and Chief Executive, Ronald McDonald House Charities Canada. “Every moment together is another opportunity for our families to create cherished and treasured memories. Together with our incredible partners at WestJet, we are so grateful to have been a part of this beautiful surprise for Troy and Darian and to have supported the Hunt Family on their journey at RMHC Newfoundland & Labrador and RMHC Toronto.”
The Hunt family, WestJet and RMHC Canada are sharing this special story to inspire Canadians to support the more than 30,000 families that call Canada’s 15 Ronald McDonald Houses and 16 Ronald McDonald Family Rooms ‘home’ each year.