Please note: this Wish Story page is exclusive to the Wish Connect newsletter. As it was an urgent wish, this story is for internal viewing only - please do not share outside of Make-A-Wish volunteers.
Five-year-old Tiakina came to us recently as an urgent wish with limited time. He was pretty quiet on the wish capture call with the HQ team although Mum said he was usually quite social and liked talking to people. Mum had mentioned they'd talked a little bit about his wish, but Tiakina didn’t really understand the concept of it, and didn’t have any solid ideas about what he'd like to wish for.
During the capture call, the team noticed Tiakina was wearing a dinosaur beanie and dinosaur PJs, so took that visual cue that we had a dinosaur lover here! When the conversation turned to dinosaurs, Tiakina couldn't stop smiling. Mum said Tiakina LOVES dinosaurs and had been to every dinosaur experience around Melbourne. They spoke about different dinosaur ideas and decided that a dinosaur-themed party would be fun for Tiakina and something he'd enjoy.
With no time to spare, the Wish team designed a personal experience especially for Tiakina which involved him meeting a REAL dinosaur, have some up-close reptile encounters and a whole heap of other dinosaur-themed fun.
But first they needed to find two ‘dinosaurs’ to assist on the wish. Full dinosaur inflatable gear was provided to keep all the good dinosaur vibes going, tell bad (good) dinosaur jokes and lead a fossil dig in the sand pit, searching for dinosaur bones.
The casting call went out and our amazing Northern Melbourne branch volunteers Karly Searle and Megan Jeffree didn’t hesitate to answer, along with Nadine, Lucy, Francesca and Rick from HQ.
'Roarsome' Wish Day
On Wish day, Tiakina and his extended family including aunties, uncles and cousins arrived at the Imaroo Community Centre in Melbourne for an afternoon of T-Rexcellent dinosaur fun. Karly, Lucy, Francesca and Rick were ready in their inflatable dinosaur suits to welcome the family on arrival.
Maddie, from Reptile Encounters kicked off the party and introduced the guests to a selection of reptiles starting with a frog and working our way up to the BIG python. Tiakina was a little unsettled when he arrived, so this was the perfect activity to calm and settle him. His face lit up as Maddie brought the different reptiles over to him to touch and pet.
Next there was a break in activities, so the family had a chance to catch up over a bite to eat while the kids charged about on the playground. One of Tiakina’s cousins had been eyeing up Francesca's dinosaur outfit, so with permission from her Dad, took over as the dinosaur rider. Karly ran a game of ‘pin the tail on the dinosaur’ while Rick entertained everyone with his dinosaur skills.
Following the break, everyone went inside for the ‘REAL DINOSAUR’ show. Tiakina and his family were slowly introduced to the dinosaurs which kept getting bigger and bigger until RAZOR THE RAPTOR arrived – a huge T-Rex complete with a four-metre-long tail. Razor may have looked scary, but he was a great dancer and had all the kids up and twirling about. Smiles, giggles and laughs all round!
During the show, the dinosaur outfit that Tiakina's cousin was wearing had worked its way around to Tiakina’s brother and then Tiakina decided it was HIS turn to ride the dinosaur. He got suited up, inflated and was off amongst the audience interacting with all his family - and even had a stand-off with Razor!
Tiakina had slowly
been in decline and hadn't wanted to engage or interact as much in the previous weeks, so Mum and Dad were so happy to see their little boy up and about, laughing
with his cousins and enjoying himself. This was such a precious moment to
witness and positive vibes were high!
Following the show, everyone headed back outside for dinosaur pats and photos and even managed a full family photo. Tiakina was still up and about patting Razor. Our lovely volunteer Megan shared a plate of tasty dinosaur cookies (Tiakina's favourite food), then Dad stood up and gave a beautiful speech to his family and the Make-A-Wish team. He thanked Make-A-Wish for making the day so special for Tiakina and for giving the whole family such a memorable day after the tough times they'd been through.
Sean from Real Dinosaurs reappeared with his box of balloons and made Tiakina the most impressive T-Rex balloon you’ve ever seen complete with little white balloon teeth! When it was time for goodbyes, goody bags were handed out and there was happiness all around to end Tiakina's ‘Roarsome’ day, a special day to remember.
Shout out to our Northern Melbourne volunteers Karly and Megan for all their help supporting this HQ wish!