Nineteen-year-old Julia lives with multiple severe physical disabilities and a visual impairment. She adores going to the gym and being able to socialize with others, but her compromised immune system requires her to workout at home, especially over the past COVID-19 and cold outbreaks.
This past June, Julia received her dream request for a recumbent cross trainer machine to help her keep fit, stay healthy, and enjoy one of her favourite pastimes. Sunshine was able to arrange a big celebration for Julia’s dream presentation, which included a visit from a small group of Sunshine volunteers and her family. The day was filled with joy and excitement as everyone gathered on the driveway to watch Julia take the first cycles on her new cross trainer machine and commemorate her dream come true. The machine, which was delivered earlier that morning, was embellished with beautiful decorations by Julia and her parents at the time volunteers arrived, showing just how much this dream meant to Julia and her family. Although masks were on, everyone could sense the joy Julia was feeling. Adding to the magic of the experience, Julia also received her favorite sweet potato cake, a Sunshine teddy bear, and gift card for her favorite athletics wear store.
Months after her dream, Julia shares that it was thrilling to see new people and meet new faces on her dream day. Her mom shares that “having so many people coming to our home for the dream presentation made Julia realize that there is hope, that COVID is not permanent. We had been telling her that COVID is temporary, but she didn't really believe us because no one was coming to visit her, and she wasn't able to go out and do the activities that she used to do.” Like the 45% of young Canadians, Julia was feeling isolated and not experiencing socialization as a result of the pandemic (Stats Canada 2021). “Preparing for the dream presentation was a huge mood lifter for her, giving her a sense of hope.” Even though the visitors were strangers to Julia, meeting with them gave her tremendous joy and reminded her that there are still people out there that care.
Julia’s Sunshine Dream not only brought the community together to celebrate her new equipment, but it also opened her world to see that her community cares. A story in her local newspaper became an ice breaker for people to feel more comfortable approaching Julia and talk about her dream. Her mom shares that “it’s not just about what you receive, it’s about the process [and long-lasting impact] of the Sunshine Dream experience.”
Julia is happier and more positive when she’s exercising on her recumbent cross trainer. Being active helps her attitude, makes her feel better medically, and curbs some of the side effects of her medications. This recumbent cross trainer machine is the perfect addition to Julia’s home gym, and she looks forward to sharing it with her home school friend.