Kiera's Story

Meeting her idol opens Kiera’s world to travel

Sixteen-year-old Kiera isn’t about to let anything stand in her way.

“She’s constantly proving people wrong,” says Michelle, Kiera’s mom. “When she was little the doctors told her she would never speak, she would never walk, she probably wouldn’t crawl. She did everything in her own time and I think she learned early on that if she works hard she can overcome any challenges she has.”

Despite all the challenges she has already faced living with cerebral palsy, she keeps looking forward to a bright future filled with possibilities. 

“We didn’t know what her challenges would be. We had to learn with her as she grew, learn what she could do, and find ways to help her to adapt to her surroundings so she could do whatever she wanted to do. There are so many challenges and they range from big to small.”

After hearing about Sunshine Dream Programs, Kiera spent years trying to decide on her perfect dream. Finally, she asked Sunshine to help her meet her idol, a celebrity athlete and author of her favourite spiritual books. Kiera felt a connection to her and wanted to learn how she overcame adversity.

Sunshine sent Kiera, Michelle and her stepfather from their home in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, to Hawaii for a trip of a lifetime that included a meeting with her idol, as well as family kayaking, attending a luau, and exploring the island.

For Kiera, it was more than she even dreamed it could be.

“I got to meet someone who inspires me,” says Kiera, who arrived at their meeting armed with a notebook of questions to ask. “It made me a lot stronger to think about how brave she was and how she overcame things.”

Now Kiera wants to help others by starting her own accessible travel organization for people with different abilities. Knowing that it can be more difficult to travel because of accessibility challenges, she wants people to know it’s possible, in spite of modified needs.

“Sometimes my life is difficult but I work through it,” says Kiera, who has since visited Florida, Prince Edward Island and Ontario, and has a trip to Spain coming up. “I can’t be on my feet for a long time but anything that other people can do, I can do, too. I just do it in a different way. I wish people would look at my walker and not see the disability, but the ability. Everything is not easy but it’s possible.”

The whole experience changed Kiera's life in many ways, says Michelle.

“Her dream coming true [had] an impact that will last a lifetime,” Michelle says. “When she came back, her eyes were opened to [the possibilities of] travel. She’s inspired to help people travel like Sunshine did for her.