Skip to content

Local charity wants you to build a snowman to help final wishes come true

By entering a snowman building contest you can support the Living Wish Foundation as it continues to fulfil wishes of palliative and terminally ill patients in South Georgian Bay

For some in the community, the piles of snow accumulating today is, indirectly, a dream come true.

The Living Wish Foundation, a Collingwood-based charity, is hosting a snowman competition to raise the funds needed to make wishes come true.

The foundation was established with the purpose of fulfilling the wishes of palliative care residents in South Georgian Bay. 

Launched in December and running until Feb. 15, the Wish Upon a Snowman competition asks participants to donate $15 per entry and submit photos of their snowmen, women and heroes for a chance to win prizes from local businesses. Prizes will be awarded for most original, superhero snowman, most creative use of accessories, and your best snowman.  Photos can be submitted and donations made online here.

Lisa Wright, co-founder of the foundation, is hopeful the fundraiser will help cover the costs of converting an old ambulance into a wish-mobile. The ambulance is already used to transfer patients to sites for their wishes. 

“Patients who are bed-bound, we can bring them to a location,” said Wright. “We did a recent wish where we took a patient to their father’s gravesite. We had to back up and open the doors so they could see it.” 

The option is less than ideal, particularly in the winter. 

If the snowman contest can bring in enough capital, the ambulance can be retrofitted with windows on the sides allowing the patients inside to see out and enjoy their wish coming true. 

Tina Jansen van Vuuren is a new volunteer with the foundation and has been organizing the snowman contest. She’s hoping it will benefit the foundation financially, but also help people enjoy the outdoors and all the fresh snow. 

“It’s hard to raise money during a pandemic,” she said. “This was our way of doing a virtual fundraiser.” 

The Living Wish Foundation was established in 2018 as a not-for-profit and has now become a registered charity. The goal for the first year, according to Wright, was to fulfill one wish per month for a terminally-ill person in the South Goergian Bay region. They exceeded their goal by granting 14 wishes in the first year. 

“We’ve had a ton of community support, and had a lot of community businesses pitching in and donating so we didn’t have to pay for everything,” said Wright. 

Before COVID hit, the wishes typically involved large gatherings. 

One woman, Jill Doble, planned and hosted her own celebration of life, and welcomed 200 people at the Raglan party room. 

“We get a chance to create joy where there wouldn’t be,” said Wright. “This is a nice way to create something for them to hope for. It really helps.”

Another patient wanted to go to just one more “Gully Fest” which was the name of the large family reunions his kin hosted on a family farm. He played his harmonica at one more Gully Fest as the family came together after a long hiatus in honour of their relative’s wish.

Living Wish, with the help of an army of volunteers, made those parties happen. 

“Almost every wish has something to do with seeing family and friends,” said Wright, a trend that continues though has to be addressed differently during the COVID-19 pandemic. “Kids have these big wishes, like going to Disneyland. For adults, it’s so simple.” 

The foundation did stop its operations at the beginning of the pandemic in order to figure out safe ways of continuing. Now the small group of volunteers on the foundation board are the ones working to make wishes come true by getting tablets into long-term care homes or hospices. 

The foundation has arranged virtual visits with pets and family members, and also got assistance from a local videographer to put together a virtual celebration of life that involved many video clips, photos, and audio recordings from friends and family for a local nurse who had the chance to watch the video with her daughter before she died. 

“Having a chance to say goodbye, and seeing the people you love, it’s about those moments,” said Wright. 

Since COVID-19 restrictions prevent visitors in places like long-term care homes, hospitals and hospices, where many who make the living wishes are being cared for, Wright said she’s been looking for contacts “inside” to become volunteers and help make the wishes come true. 

“We need someone on the inside of every retirement home and long-term care home to know we can grant wishes and to help us,” said Wright. 

She said it could be anybody and their role could be as simple as delivering a tablet to a resident so they can join a video call with their family and/or their pets. 

Anyone who would like to volunteer can do so by signing up on the Living Wish website (volunteer tab) or by emailing Wright at info@livingwishfoundation.org.


Reader Feedback

Erika Engel

About the Author: Erika Engel

Erika regularly covers all things news in Collingwood as a reporter and editor. She has 13 years of experience as a local journalist
Read more