Seven-year-old Ava Trout has been through a lot in her young life: liver failure, meningitis, a bone marrow transplant and antibody transfusions to help fight off infections.
With her life slowly returning to normal, her wish is a family trip to Disneyland. To get her there, the annual Super Strength for Super Kids strongman competition is making her the focus of fundraising efforts on Sept. 18 at Anytime Fitness.
The event includes different challenges for competitors to test their skills, such as flipping 500-pound tires and lifting heavy objects, said organizer Quentin Derhak. Children are also being invited to find their super strength with their own challenges, like flipping standard car tires.
For all the fun and entertainment, he said this is to give back and help someone in need in the community.
"When we were putting this together, we contacted The Dream Factory and asked if there was anyone in the Westman area that needed help and they sent us Ava’s story," he said. "Last year we had a blast and it’s going to be bigger this year. I know a lot of people that said they come out to watch the freak show of us throwing things around."
Super Strength for Super Kids has continued through the pandemic virtually, but this will be the first live and outdoor event since 2020.
The fundraising goal is $10,000, which Derhak said is the minimum cost to pay for the dream. Everyone that registers to participate must raise a minimum of $250.
Initially, this was an Olympic-type weightlifting competition called Deadlifts for Dreams. It was switched to strongman because it is more inclusive. Now it entails more novice-level challenges.
Competition is about how long and/or fast someone can do it and anyone from any gym, or anywhere, can get in on the fun.
Aside from participants, organizers are also looking for corporate sponsors. The city’s businesses have been generous in the past, he said, and everyone pitching in will help the money add up fast.
Having an entire event dedicated to her daughter is more than Callie Trout said she could ask for.
"Ava said she wanted to go and meet all the princesses: Anna, Elsa and Cinderella," she said. "She’s always been a Disney fan and the movies have [gotten] her through everything."
They are still not sure what caused Ava Trout’s myriad of conditions, Callie Trout said. Genetic testing found nothing unusual, and doctors are still trying to pinpoint what is causing her conditions.
It all began in 2019 when Ava Trout woke up with a yellow tint in her eyes. This was unusual, said her mom, who took her to a clinic, where doctors said it was jaundice and it would go away on its own. However, Callie Trout said she was sure something was very wrong and had a pediatrician perform bloodwork.
Due to a backlog of tests, the family was told they would have to wait.
Callie Trout said she wasn’t taking any chances and drove her daughter to Winnipeg to children’s emergency. It was there where doctors found her liver was malfunctioning and was admitted to hospital. After a two-week stay, she was discharged and was on her way home, when they received a call to return immediately because test results showed she was in liver failure.
More tests confirmed this and she was flown to Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto. After another two-week stay, her liver recovered on its own.
And that was just the beginning of a nearly two-year ordeal that would include a severe aplastic anemia diagnosis, blood transfusions, a bone marrow transplant and most recently, meningitis. She is receiving antibody transfusions every month to protect her from infections.
Her family has been very supportive and helpful during this whole time as well, Callie Trout said.
During this time, a nurse suggested Callie Trout contact The Dream Factory about applying to have a wish granted. Going to Disneyland was a natural choice with Ava Trout’s love for the music and movies. When they are going to go, and which park, is still unknown, but Callie Trout said they would prefer to go to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla.
The Dream Factory relies solely on donations to fund wishes for the families they work with, said Karly Tardiff, fundraising and marketing manager for The Dream Factory. Ava Trout was chosen as the fundraising focus because she was in the Westman area. The charity reached out to the family and they agreed. As for the dream, it can be anything.
"Disneyland is always a popular choice because there is a special place there called Give Kids the World that is specifically for sick children," she said. "It really is a very magical place. They have their own villa, the park sets up any medical equipment they need inside. It’s a place where you are there to not worry and enjoy your time."
They have sent many children to Disney resorts and all of their families said they had no problems and for a while, their conditions seemed to improve, and they were happy and healthy again, Tardiff said.
Families come to The Dream Factory usually through referrals from medical staff and they can apply. The charity screens applications and if a family is chosen, they are contacted and fundraising is discussed. With inflation, it is getting more expensive to makes dreams come true, she said.
However, the charity has seen the generosity of people shine through and Tardiff said it is confident this will happen again for Ava Trout.
People don’t have to wait for Super Strength for Super Kids to donate. Anyone wishing to contribute is welcome to donate to The Dream Factory at thedreamfactory.ca.
To register for Super Strength for Super Kids, go online at superkidsmb.ca.
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