Wills Hodgkinson and sister Scarlett share a moment together Thursday. Mark Brett/Western News Wills Hidgkinson, watching a bit of TV with his sister Scarlett in the Western News offices and looking healthy and strong. Mark Brett/Western News

Penticton boy helping launch B.C. Children’s Hospital Christmas fundraiser

Okanagan cancer survivor stars in Whitecaps/BC Children’s Hospital promo

After being a poster child for the B.C. Children’s Hospital Dream Lottery, Wills Hodgkinson is helping the hospital out once again.

This time it is kicking off their Christmas campaign, along with the Vancouver Whitecaps.

Last January, Wills was rushed to the hospital where doctors found a large tumour attached to his kidney, and eight more tumours on his lungs.

Ten months later, the kidney tumour is removed, the lung tumours have shrunken and Wills is back in school at Holy Cross, with no more chemo or radiation treatments, at least for now.

Related: ‘Hero’ kid fighting cancer helping with B.C. Children’s Hospital fundraiser

“We are going to be here for Christmas and New Years. There was a time when we never expected … that was looking …,” said his father Tim, trailing off and unable to put the possibility into words. “It’s a gift to be back.”

There are four remaining tumours on Wills’ lungs, which Tim describes as “stabilized,” and Wills goes back for more evaluations in January.

“Fingers crossed, if that goes well, then we could really be fully on the right road,” said Tim.

Related: Community shows support for seven-year-old battling cancer

Wills has been back in school now for long enough it’s back to normal for him and his classmates.

“Pretty good, but now it is getting pretty boring,” said Wills, recalling a short visit earlier this year when he wasn’t expected. “They all rushed at me and freaked out.”

For much of the last 10 months, the children’s’ hospital was home for Wills, with his father, mother Neely Brimer and younger sister Scarlett, staying in Vancouver to be at Wills’ side.

“Anything we can do, or that Wills can do, that can support the B.C. Children’s Hospital and the good work they do … we’re happy to do, no question,” said his father, Tim, about Wills participating in the promotional video. “It’s fun and very exciting for him, but the main point is anything we can do to help shine a light on what they do.”

The Big B.C. Snowball Fight for Kids aims to be the largest virtual snowball fight in the province, which every donation to the campaign until Jan. 6 counting as one snowball thrown.

In his video, an obviously delighted Wills runs around, throwing snowballs at Whitecaps players and participating in their practice.

Wills, a soccer player and fan, developed a strong bond with the Vancouver Whitecaps while in Children’s Hospital.

“The Whitecaps have been so much a part of our lives, they’ve been so good. Eric Hurtado, plus Kei Kamara and Jake Nerwinski, those three have been amazing, but particularly Eric,” said Tim.

Wills also has the honour of being named a kid captain by the Whitecaps.

Though he still has far to go, Wills’ attitude towards his cancer is positive, saying he’s done with it, though he’s planning to stay in touch with all his Whitecaps friends.

“It’s really cool. I know everyone on the team now,” said Wills who scores a goal on Kamara in the video.

“Our players and staff have had many interactions with Wills this year and they have come away truly inspired by his love for life and soccer. He’s a fighter who lights up every room he’s in. We hope that in some small way we’ve helped Wills and his family through a difficult period in their lives because they have certainly made a positive impact on our club,” said Whitecaps FC president Bob Lenarduzzi.

Wills, who is already back playing winter soccer, is clear that he plans to make a career of it.

“Of course! I am getting better every day,” said Wills.

“I’m going to play for the Pinnacles, then when I move up to a club team, I’m going to play for Chelsea, then when I play for a national team, England.”

For more information and fundraising ideas visit bcchf.ca/snowball. To throw your own snowball, make a donation at snowballfightforkids.ca.


Steve Kidd
Senior reporter, Penticton Western News
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