Rees' wish reminds him to never give up

Rees is 17. Currently in eleventh grade, he is taking a few grade twelve courses in the hopes of lightening his school load next year. He’s made the honor roll for the past two years, and won rookie of the year for both the football and baseball teams he played on. He has his driver’s license, and bought his first car with his own money.

It all sounds almost typical, but this well-rounded, high-achieving teen was once sidelined from the life he loved. Suffering from a neurological condition as the result of an accident, Rees was 10 in 2011 when he was told he wouldn’t be playing in the upcoming hockey season due to his illness and injury. The boy who’d been playing hockey from the age of four was heartbroken.

Things changed when Rees was given the opportunity to have a wish. “Another patient’s mom in the hospital told my mom about it,” says Rees. The hockey-loving boy wanted just one thing: to meet Alex Burrows from the Vancouver Canucks. “It gave me the opportunity to go somewhere and forget about all the painful procedures and the frustration I had when watching my siblings play hockey from the sidelines,” Rees says of his wish.

The wish trip to Vancouver and the experience of meeting the NHL star was hugely memorable for Rees. The best part? “The combination of the Canucks winning that night and actually meeting Alex Burrows in person. He signed and gave me his game stick and the game puck.”

He also gave the young hockey fan a little advice. “Alex Burrows told me his story of how he made it to the NHL, and how it was not the way a person would expect. It encouraged me to not give up on my dreams, even though hockey was on hold for the time being.”

Although being sick was not something anyone would want, Rees sees the blessing in his illness. “Although I had a life-threatening condition, I had the privilege of what I believe to be a miracle—I believe God protected me through the illness that could have taken my life and restored me back to full health.”

Now healthy, Rees has high hopes for his future. “I hope to pursue a science degree and go into medicine in the future.” And the hockey? “I returned to playing in fall 2012 and went back with a lot more passion. I just finished up my second year of midget. I really enjoy a lot of different sports, but hockey is my favourite.”

“The wish I received gave me and my family a happy time after a very stressful time for all of us. It allowed us to embrace life through the changes we all experienced, and find some normalcy again.”

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