Toy Dash for kids with cancer held by Rachel's Kids in Cornwall

Dr. Rachel Navaneelan (back row, middle) among those gathered for a group photo after the Toy Dash on Sunday, December 9, 2018, in Cornwall, Ont. Todd Hambleton/Cornwall Standard-Freeholder/Postmedia Network Todd Hambleton / Todd Hambleton/Standard-Freeholder

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Fifteen minutes before the start of the first-ever Rachel’s Kids Toy Dash at Kid’s Korner in downtown Cornwall, two-and-a-half-year-old Connor Wilson was in full shopping mode.

He deftly manoeuvered a mini-kart down the aisles of the toy store, scouting out what might be targeted when it was time for the real thing.

“He’s pretty excited,’’ said mom Krista Wilson. “As soon as we walked in, he was ready to go.’’

Christmas came early for three local kids and their families on Sunday, thanks to the partnership between Rachel’s Kids and the store.

The new initiative had three local children who are fighting cancer get an opportunity to experience something fun right before Christmas. The kids were given free reign of the store for five minutes, and they could fill up as many shopping bags with toys as they wanted to.

Siblings of the three kids were also invited, and when the main event ended, they too got to go on a toy-shopping spree, for three minutes.

“It’s a small token of appreciation for all that they do to support and help their family and their sibling,’’ said Dominique Chabot-Payment, project co-ordinator for the Rachel’s Kids Development Fund.

The bill for all those toys gathered was split evenly by Rachel’s Kids and the store, and participating in the five-minute dash along with Connor Wilson was Lily Douglass, 7, and Max Nuttall, 3, all of Cornwall.

“(Connor) was getting treatment last year at this time, so this is nice, and something different – something to take his mind off the treatment,” said dad Ryan Wilson.

Connor 17 months ago was diagnosed with childhood leukemia, and dad said that once a month they head off to the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Ottawa for treatment and procedures.

“This is really fun for him,” Wilson said. “We were very surprised to get the call to (participate in the event). . . Rachel’s Kids has helped us lots in the past, too.”

Said Krista Wilson, just before the dash: “I thought he wouldn’t be able to do it on his own, but he’s getting it. . . he’s trying to grab stuff already (before the official start).”

High on Connor’s wish list? The Incredibles items, “as well as Paw Patrol stuff,” mom noted.

The Rachel’s Kids Development Fund’s founder is Cornwall dentist Dr. Rachel Navaneelan. Rachel’s Kids funds projects around the corner and around the world, raising money throughout the year, primarily from individual donors and through an annual fundraising auction.

Expect the Toy Dash to become an annual event. For the inaugural dashes, the store was closed to customers as the kids and their families looked for great toys.

“It’s a fun thing to do right at Christmas time,” said Rachel’s Kids executive director Kim Lauzon. “(Kid’s Korner) opened the store just for us, and we’ll see how it goes.”

Said store manager Lise Irwin: “We’re honoured to do this. . . this is what the season is about, making dreams happen for kids. Nothing feels better than helping children in need.”

thambleton@postmedia.com

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