The Moen family were recently the recipients of a random act of kindness that could not have come at a better time.
Aaron Moen and wife Ana were at Sick Children’s Hospital in Vancouver where their year-and-half-old son Aeson was undergoing cancer treatment when Aaron got an unexpected phone call.
On the other end of the line, was owner/manager Allayne Clark of K. Banks Travel.
She informed him there were two tickets to any Air Canada destination in North America waiting for them when they returned home.
“I was just sitting on the cot at the hospital and all of a sudden my phone rang and it was her,” said Moen, 30, who is a welder at Peerless Limited. “I was shocked and I didn’t know what to say and I got pretty emotional about it, even talking about it now it’s kind of hard to believe.
“It really was a good time because Aeson had been on continuous morphine and this last round of chemo just drained him completely, it was expected, but difficult to watch, so this really lifted us.”
The tickets had been donated by Clark’s clients, Earl and Lorna Hyde, who were the successful bidders in an auction that was part of a fundraiser for the young family of the late Scott Mullins.
Mullins passed away unexpectedly in late 2013 at the age of 33, just weeks before his daughter Scotty Rae was born.
Air Canada was among the many generous businesses and individuals who pitched in to help the family by donating the tickets.
The Hydes and Moens met for the first time Sunday at Penticton Regional Airport prior to Ana and Aaron’s trip to Vancouver for Aeson’s checkup. Not surprisingly, there were plenty of hugs and tears and even Aeson said thanks with a big smile and some high fives for his new friends.
“I can’t think of two more wonderful families, they’re just such wonderful people,” said Clark, who was there to introduce them. “My goodness, I went to my car afterwards and had a good cry because it was just such an emotional experience and such a happy thing to be a part of.”
Ana admitted she didn’t know what to expect before meeting the other couple at the airport and just how she could express her gratitude.
“I am usually not a very emotional person but when I hugged Mrs. Hyde I couldn’t stop myself from crying,” said Ana, 26. “We have an amazing little boy that did great throughout the whole treatment but the very last treatment was very hard on him and on us.
“I will never forget the day when Aaron got the call from Allayne. We were having a very tough day with Aeson, and to hear that a couple donated two tickets to us was just amazing, we just looked at each other in shock.”
She and her husband have chosen to go to Hawaii, likely in March, just before Aeson’s second birthday.
Both said they are looking forward so much to getting away and spending some happy family time together, especially now that their son is doing well.
Sitting in the airport cafeteria, Earl described how the tickets were initially to go to the family of Chloe Kroeger to help with their travel plans.
“We’d read in the Western News about this little girl who had cancer and I went into the office and showed Allayne and I said this might be a good thing for these tickets,” recalled Earl.
Sadly, Chloe, who had captured the hearts of so many people, never returned home, passing away in Newfoundland.
Earl then asked Clark to let him know if she heard of another family and when she learned of the Moens, she felt it would be a perfect fit.
“It’s wonderful, we bought these at a charity and now it’s helping somebody else too,” said Earl. “It just felt like it a good thing to do. It was fantastic to meet them today, they’re so happy and they’ve been through so much.”
For Lorna this whole process has an extra special meaning.
“I had a sick child who passed away so I kind of know what it’s like for these families,” she said. “It’s something you don’t ever get over. They’re not supposed to go before you do.”
Aeson was 13 months old when doctors discovered the tumour behind his left lung, which turned out to be cancerous.
“I’ve never cried so much in my life,” said Aaron remembering the day he learned of the news.
The diagnosis began an immediate barrage of treatments which went on for seven months.
During that time, Aaron and Ana rarely saw each other, except in passing as they took shifts at the hospital to be with their child.
On weekends, Ana would stay at Ronald McDonald House and Aaron would go to the hospital, returning to Penticton Sunday night to start work on Monday.
Results so far have shown the treatments were successful and Aeson is now home and back to his normal, energetic self.
For his part, Aaron continues to find it difficult to put into words just how much his family appreciates the many things, unasked for, that the community has done for his family.
“For myself, Ana and Aeson, on behalf of all us, I just want to say thank you to all of those people who have helped us so much during such a difficult time,” he said.
“This really will be a very merry Christmas.”