Christmas came early for nine-year-old Hillary Birkett, who was the winner of the “three-minute toy dash” through Langley’s Toy “R” Us in partnership with Starlight Children’s Foundation on Tuesday morning.
The lucky Langley girl wasn’t able to fall asleep until 11:45 p.m. the night before because she was so excited, said her mom, Sherri.
“She had so much fun. I’m so proud of her. She did so well, she was so poised and man, is she fast,” said Sherri.
With her mom, dad, big brother and friends cheering her on, Hillary raced through the aisles at 7 a.m. She had just three minutes to dash through the store, grabbing as many toys as she could.
Mom and daughter had already scoped out the store a few days earlier, and Hillary had made a list of toys in her head before the big day.
She was one of seven toy dash recipients. Toy dashes also took place in other Canadian cities, including Ottawa, Montreal, Winnipeg, Halifax, Toronto and Edmonton, on Tuesday.
Hillary has complex medical issues resulting from a rare chromosome deletion. She is blind in one eye and has unique body features. She has been part of the Starlight Foundation’s family for almost her entire life, participating in many of their events.
It was obvious which toy was her favourite, from the singing that could be heard in the background when the Times phoned her house on Tuesday.
“Definitely the karaoke machine was the one item she had to make sure to get. She’s been singing beautifully for the past two hours,” said Sherri. “It’s a pleasure to listen to her sing.”
The three-minute dash program donated by Toys “R” Us Canada, one of Starlight’s longstanding partners, is one of the most popular annual events hosted by Starlight.
Over the past eight years, Hillary and her family have juggled doctor appointments and therapies.
“When we are at therapy, we make it fun. That’s our job to make these things fun,” she said.
The Birkett family has attended Starlight events for the past eight years, connecting with other Starlight families.
Hillary particularly loves Starlight’s Great Escapes events, holiday parties and movie showings. A highlight was a trip to Disneyland.
“Starlight is just incredible,” said Sherri.
One of her favorite memories was the mommy and me spa day they put on.
“Hillary dressed as a princess and we were greeted at the spa by Olaf and Elsa. We had our nails done. It’s at events like that, that awesome memories are made.
“When Hillary had surgery, Captain Starlight sent her an encouraging video. When we were at the aquarium for another Starlight event, Captain Starlight presented her the medal of bravery in front of everyone. That was three years ago, but she still shares that story. It’s those moments that stick in their hearts.”
Hillary is a busy, happy nine-year-old, involved in various sports and activities, and has many ‘incredible friends,’ said mom.
“She’s a very determined lady. She loves gymnastics, figure skating, circus class. There are challenges but she learns how to make her world work for her.”
“If someone is born with a disability it doesn’t define who they are. It means they do some things in a different way. But they do it, and they do it well,” she said.
To find out more about all Starlight Foundation Canada does, go to starlightcanada.org.