Hayden's Story

Magic on the sea for dreamer’s family

When 10-year-old Hayden and his family set sail on a magical Disney Cruise last February, many dreams were about to come true. Although it was Hayden’s Sunshine Dream of sleeping on a big ship and meeting Captain Mickey Mouse that prompted the trip, the time they spent together was a cherished experience for the whole family.

Hayden, from Guelph, Ontario, lives with cerebral palsy and has spends most of his time in a wheelchair, his days often filled with doctors’ appointments and physical therapy visits. A curious boy, Hayden always likes to know how things work. He was also fascinated by boats and was excited to learn all about cruise ships and looked forward to spending time cruising on the open water.

Hayden’s mom, Vicky, says Hayden’s Sunshine Dream came at a time when their family needed it most. Soon after they found out his dream was approved, Vicky was diagnosed with late-stage cancer and told she would have just three to five years to live.

“The cancer had caused us all so much stress that we were drifting apart,” she says, describing the difficulty the family of four experienced following the diagnosis. “We had one rule while on vacation: There are no rules! We lived by that and had the best time of our lives. No one worried about time, money or activities. We spent our days together as a family. This trip reminded us what we mean to each other.”

For Hayden, meeting his idol, Mickey Mouse, was everything he dreamed it would be. Seeing the joy on his face is something Vicky says she will never forget.

“Hayden wouldn’t let Mickey out of his sight or let go of his hand,” she says of when they met Captain Mickey. “He never smiles in pictures but I was able to get true smiles out of him that day.”

Now, Hayden has incredible memories to look back on for years to come. Not only did he get his dream trip, he was also a special guest at a January Guelph Storm hockey game, where Sunshine presented him with his Sunshine Dream. A big fan of the team, Hayden was told he would be dropping the puck, but was surprised when Sunshine Bear and Sunshine staff arrived to share the news that his dream was coming true. 

“He had been over-the-top excited ever since the big reveal,” says Vicky. “On the cruise, he was very proud to let everyone he saw know that he was on his dream trip. Even back at school and at the respite house he visits once a month, he has not stopped talking about his trip.”

“My Sunshine Dream made me feel special,” says Hayden. “It’s important for kids to have dreams come true. Sunshine is the best at making dreams come true!”