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Leeland Hill, 9, gets RCMP escort across Newfoundland; will host 'pretty party' for great-grandmother on Saturday

To say he was the star of the show would be an understatement for Leeland Hill. The nine-year-old from Dartmouth is in St. John’s this week to fulfil his wish, to meet his great nanny Betty Thorne. On hand for the brief gathering are (from left) Const. April Janes, Barry Fowler, provincial director Children’s Wish NL, Leeland, his mom Denise Hill and father Shane Beck.
To say he was the star of the show would be an understatement for Leeland Hill. The nine-year-old from Dartmouth is in St. John’s this week to fulfil his wish, to meet his great nanny Betty Thorne. On hand for the brief gathering are (from left) Const. April Janes, Barry Fowler, provincial director Children’s Wish NL, Leeland, his mom Denise Hill and father Shane Beck. - Sam McNeish

‘My wish is to see my great-nanny’

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. —

Wednesday was a long day for Leeland Hill.

The nine-year-old from Dartmouth travelled all day across the province, complete with an RCMP escort from Port aux Basques to St. John’s, to help fulfill a wish.

Leeland Hill travelled from his home in Dartmouth, N.S., with one wish in mind: to meet his great-nanny Betty Thorne. He is shown here with his mother Denise Hill and father Shane Beck when they arrived at the Fairfield Marriott on Wednesday night.
Leeland Hill travelled from his home in Dartmouth, N.S., with one wish in mind: to meet his great-nanny Betty Thorne. He is shown here with his mother Denise Hill and father Shane Beck when they arrived at the Fairfield Marriott on Wednesday night.

Leland, his parents Denise Hill and Shane Beck, grandparents Dale and Rod McQueen (Denise’s parents), and Carol Thorne (Shane’s mom), arrived at the Fairfield Marriott just after 9 p.m. on Wednesday and were greeted by representatives of the Children’s Wish Foundation.

He was escorted into the meeting room by RCMP Const. April Janes and RCMP Assistant Commissioner Ches W. Parsons, in addition to his parents, grandparents and members of the Children’s Wish committee.

But unlike others his age, he had just one wish, to see his great-nanny – Betty Thorne — and to host a “pretty party” in her honour and shower his great-grandmother with flowers and love.

“I have never met her, so this is something I want to do,’’ Leeland said Wednesday night.

“There will be a party on Saturday where I can see her and make her feel special,’’ he added. 

Leeland was recently diagnosed with focal pontine/mid-brain high grade Glioma, a terminal brain condition.

While to some this may take the wind out of your sails, Leeland is facing it head on, perhaps with the naivety of a nine-year-old, but in fact, with the heart of a champion and a smile as big as all outdoors.

The chipper youth, unlike those he was travelling with, was more than willing to sit and chat with the media and recount the previous 24 hours of his life.

On Monday in Halifax, they held a wish presentation prior to his departure for Newfoundland on Tuesday morning.

Leeland Hill, 9, of Dartmouth, N.S., received a hero’s welcome across Newfoundland on Wednesday as members of the various detachments escorted his family from the ferry in Port aux Basques to their hotel in St. John’s. On hand to escort Leeland into the Fairfield Marriot on Kenmount Road was Const. April Janes and Assistant Commissioner Ches W. Parsons.
Leeland Hill, 9, of Dartmouth, N.S., received a hero’s welcome across Newfoundland on Wednesday as members of the various detachments escorted his family from the ferry in Port aux Basques to their hotel in St. John’s. On hand to escort Leeland into the Fairfield Marriot on Kenmount Road was Const. April Janes and Assistant Commissioner Ches W. Parsons.

“My wish is to see my great-nanny, see all the sights along the way and maybe all the toys I can wish for,’’ he said.

“Once we got on the boat, I was allowed to sit with the captain — but he didn’t let me steer. He gave me lots of stuff, things like fishing stuff and balloons.’’

Each wish granted is carefully structured to meet the particular needs of the child and their family. In Newfoundland alone, more than 900 wishes have been granted to date and 64 wishes are being worked on at this moment. 

The Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada is the largest and only all-Canadian wish granting charity dedicated to granting wishes to Canadian children between the ages of three and 17 who are diagnosed with a life-threatening illness.

For more than 34 years, Children’s Wish has worked to grant wishes to more than 25,000 children and their families.

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