This Saturday the Wishmaker Walk for Wishes in Penticton is dedicated to nine-year-old Kelowna boy Markus Smythe.
Markus died on Wednesday after battling Rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare form of cancer. He had been given just three months to live and in the summer received a gift from The Children’s Wish Foundation for him and his family to go to Jamaica to see his extended family .
“He was an amazing little boy with a beautiful smile and gave the best hugs. I think Markus has touched so many lives in his short time,” said Diana Stirling, co-organizer of the Penticton Wishmaker Walk for Wishes.
Stirling, who also owns LocoLanding Adventure Park, was inspired to bring the walk to Penticton because of Markus. She met him in the summer after hearing about the family through a friend. Together with 12 local businesses, Stirling organized a dream weekend for the boy that included accommodation, food and other activities. LocoLanding also extended its gift with unlimited access to the park for Markus.
“As the owners of LocoLanding we have got this amazing place where people can have fun and create memories, so it seemed like an absolute natural fit. We just wanted to give them memories and I can’t imagine anyone not wanting to do that,” said Stirling.
Penticton is one of four communities in B.C. chosen for the Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada’s national event. The event helps raise money to grant wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses. Stirling said since news of Markus’s death has circulated in the community there have been a number of inquiries as to how people can directly assist the family.
“A component of this weekend’s event will be that people wishing to make donations specifically to Markus’s family to help with funeral arrangements can do so. It will be very clear at the event which donations are to Markus’s family and where to donate for the Children’s Wish Foundation. It will all be identified at the registration that takes place at Gyro Park,” said Stirling.
The walk starts at Gyro Park with registration taking place at 11 a.m. Participants are asked to be there by 11:30 a.m. and the walk will start at noon from Gyro Park to LocoLanding and back. From noon to 3 p.m. there will be a kids’ party in Gyro Park with activities including bouncy castles, LocoLanding’s Monkey Motion and rock climbing apparatus, craft tables, face painting, Halloween-themed family photos, entertainment and prizes.
“Even if people don’t have children and would like to come down and show their support there will be some entertainment and it will be a really fun afternoon,” said Stirling.