|Starlight wishes in Whistler|
Looking at Briana Butcher, one wouldn’t know that she has a serious illness. She has a beautiful shy smile, and a soft demeanour that most 10-year-old girls on the cusp of adolescence have.
One wouldn’t know that underneath that smile is a ripple of pain that constantly throbs throughout the lower half of her body.
A year ago Briana was just like every other girl in her class at school. She played soccer, ran around, and had fun. Then a hockey injury sent her to the hospital with her mother, Kathryn, believing she had broken her leg. What Kathryn learned was that her daughter had a rare condition called complex regional pain syndrome.
Briana’s soccer days came to a grinding halt. Within two weeks of entering the hospital she was crawling and bound to a wheelchair. Just putting on socks was extraordinarily painful. Blankets hurt as well.
Kathryn had to quit her job to take care of Briana, who spent the months of August to November at Children’s Hospital in Vancouver. Fortunately the Squamish community stepped in, with the firefighters putting on a fundraiser for the Butcher family, and the Valleycliffe Elementary School raising $2,000 in a penny drive.
It was at the hospital that the Butchers met Heather Burnett, publicist and coordinator for the non-profit charity called Starlight Starbright Children’s Foundation.
Every year, the foundation takes a group of children on a complementary day of “life brightening” adventure on the Rocky Mountaineer train, from Vancouver to Whistler.
This year Briana was among the 13 children who, along with their families, made the journey on the train up to Whistler.
The train ride was not an ordinary train ride.
“The kids had a blast on the way up,” said Burnett. “We had entertainers — there was a cartoonist who drew each kid at least twice, and Fannie who sang, did a magic show, and made animals out of balloons.”
Once the train reached Whistler, the face-painted children deboarded, and headed for the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory for some ice cream. From there, it was all smiles as the group loaded onto a gondola and went to the top of Whistler mountain for a scavenger hunt.
For Briana, the trip offered her a chance to forget about the pain, therapy and medication she has to take every day. “It was the most fun we’ve had in a long time,” said Kathryn. “It was a nice break and nice not to think about anything but that.”