For Calgary realtor Gary Heald, his dream is finally happening after three years in the making.
The realtor, with RE/MAX Real Estate (Central) in Calgary, is launching A Special Kid’s Day at the Lake, which will offer a sick or terminally ill kid and their family a day of the best medicine, FUN & LAUGHTER.
The initiative is tagged as Life Is Better at Lake McGregor and Heald says activities will include everything from fishing, boating, sea-doos, swimming, mini bikes/quads, golf carts, hayrides, beach and pond exploring, lunch, barbecue and everything you would dream to do at the lake at no cost.
It will start mid-June and run till mid-September, booking 12 days for 12 families.
“It’s primarily for a kid that has gone through or is going through a traumatic experience health-wise, or is terminal, and it’s almost like a little mini children’s wish day,” says Heald. “But it’s not just about the kid. It’s also about the families because they are all impacted by the trauma.
“When I was a kid, I didn’t have the best upbringing or the best opportunities in life. I had a friend in school take me out to his lake for a weekend and it changed my life. And I still remember it to this day.
“I have 100 acres of waterfront property about an hour and 15 minutes southeast of Calgary on Lake McGregor. I’ve been hosting families forever and I just get a kick out of being able to share my good fortune and all the water toys with other families.”
“I’ve been thinking about a Special Kid’s Day for a long time and actually really working on it for the last three years to put this together. I was a sick kid as a young kid. I was in the hospital a lot and I just thought what better way than to share my good fortune with a family and make them forget about all the sickness and stuff that goes along with it and just come out and have a magical day of doing everything you want,” says Heald.
Heald has been a realtor for 17 years with 15 of those years at Central.
He describes the time at the lake for the kids and their families as “a day completely of nothing but bliss.”
“I’ve been accumulating toys for the last three years to be able to make this like a Club Med experience for these kids and families. They will come out for a day, and they will fill this list out of everything that they want to do in the day along with everything they want to eat through that day. Some volunteers and I will put this magical day together for them,” says Heald.
A website is being developed for the project.
“It really started with fishing. Fishing was my passion when I was a kid and then I just sort of expanded upon that. When I was a little kid I could only dream of riding a little mini bike. When you get a chance to do it, you forget about all the troubles in your life and you’re doing things that you only dreamed to do.”
Heald says he’s been receiving strong support for his initiative.
On his Facebook page, he says: “With all the craziness going on in the world, I am taken aback and overwhelmed with emotions by the amazing support and compassion of so many wonderful people offering their help, Thank you so much. It shows me there is still so much love and so many wonderful people. I am blessed and excited. This is going to be magical for so many.”
Hopefully this is the beginning of something great, says Heald, adding that it would be ideal if the idea expanded to other places.
(Mario Toneguzzi is a veteran of the media industry for more than 40 years and named in 2021 a Top Ten Business Journalist in the world and only Canadian)