Bill Ray wants to raise $50,000 to make children’s wishes come true — and he plans to do it one step at a time.
The 49-year-old Maple Ridge man began a 650-km journey last week that began in Port Hardy and is scheduled to finish in Burnaby at the Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada
“I’m hoping I can get a dollar from every working person between here and Burnaby so I can reach my goal,” said Ray, who lost his son, Brian, 15 years ago to cancer.
“He died when he was just nine-years-old,” said the dad, whose eyes become red with emotion while talking about his boy.
The Children’s Wish Foundation made it possible for Brian to visit Disneyland before he died.
“It meant everything to him,” Ray said.
“He got to play with the dolphins and do other things during his week there.”
Ray said he never forgot that kindness weeks before his son passed away and wants to do something for the foundation that helped Brian realize his dream.
“It’s just something I gotta do to give back,” said Ray.
“I’m doing it in Brian’s honour and of course to honour the children who are still fighting to beat their cancers.”
It’s fitting, perhaps, that he is starting his trek at the beginning of March, which has been designated as Children’s Wish month.
“This is a very personal healing thing for him, as well as supporting the Children’s’ Wish Foundation,” said Kim Antiffaef, fundraising coordinator for the foundation.
Each year, thousands of Canadian children between the ages of three and 17 are diagnosed with a life threatening illness.
This year the Children’s Wish Foundation expects to grant 1,000 new wishes.
While the foundation is proud of the fact it never once turned down a child, it can use donations.
“We definitely are in need and have kids waiting for wishes all the time,” said Antiffaef.
With only a knapsack filled with clothing and an extra pair of New Balance runners, Ray started his trek south from Port Hardy Thursday and plans to get on the old Island Highway from Campbell River.
He’ll make his way to Victoria, then to the ferry before he walks the last leg of his journey to Burnaby.
“I’ve never done anything like this,” said Ray.
“But I want to raise awareness about the Children’s Wish Foundation and raise funds for it.”
Those wishing to donate to Ray’s cause — and to learn more about it — can do so securely online by logging on at www.wishmonth.ca, and then clicking on Brian’s Walk for Wishes.