© Submitted photo
Ian Spence is seen with his foster parents Phyllis and Barry Penney and family members Jason Penney and Dylan Penney.
CORNER BROOK Of all the things a child could wish for, Ian Spence chose coming to Newfoundland.
“’Cause there’s so many places to go,” he said by phone from King’s Point on Wednesday.
“There’s whales, dolphins and tuna fish.”
And Spence, 14, saw them all on Monday when he was treated to a tour of Bonne Bay out of Norris Point by BonTours. It was all part of Spence’s wish provided by Children’s Wish.
Spence’s foster parents Phyllis and Barry Penney are accompanying him on the trip. The Penneys are both from Newfoundland — she’s originally from Kings Point and he from Springdale.
Phyllis Penney said they left the province some 40 years ago and have been living in Manitoba since 1991.
Eight years ago they became Spence’s foster parents. The young teen has a lot of medical issues including suffering from mild cerebral palsy and a heart condition that requires him to have a pacemaker.
Penney said when a lady from Children’s Wish called to ask Spence what he wanted for his wish, she wasn’t expecting the answer.
“It surprised me. I never had a clue,” she said. “I looked at my husband and he looked at me and, ‘Oh my god, where’s this coming from?’”
She figures his interest came from hearing them talk about the province and from the pictures he’s seen. Spence also explained to the woman that he had family that he had to visit here.
Spence said his reason for not choosing another wish like going to Disney World was simply because it’s “too hot there.”
He said seeing the dolphins was his favourite part of the tour and when asked how close the dolphins got to the boat he said “this close,” leaving an image of a child with outstretched arms.
Penney said watching Spence’s reaction to the boat tour was pure joy and commended the tour company for the way they treated the family.
“We were treated like royalty when we got there,” she said. “I cried, cried and cried the way we were treated.”
She said Children’s Wish arranged the tour and provided the family with the money to pay for it, but when they got there the company wouldn’t take it.
Penney also said they presented Spence with a lot of gifts including a picture of a whale’s eye from Sebastien Caty of Parks Canada and a bag of souvenirs from BonTours, Gros Morne Cooperating Association and Anchors Aweigh. And he was also treated to a musical performance by Angus Stewart, Michael McDonald, Wayne Parsons and Reginald Williams of Anchors Aweigh.
The family will spend the rest of the week visiting with family around King’s Point and making some treks along local beaches before heading back to Manitoba on Sunday.