Ucluelet recently aced a Make-a-Wish Foundation assignment for the second time this summer.
Jakob Brower, a 12-year-old from Suffolk County, New York, dreamed of catching a Wild Pacific Salmon and the Make-a-Wish Foundation sent him to the perfect spot to do just that.
Brower, who is battling leukaemia, visited Ucluelet from Aug. 26-31 and left with his wish fulfilled.
“Once again, the business operators in Ucluelet went above and beyond to make a child’s wish come true,” said the Make-A-Wish Foundation’s BC and Yukon Communications Director Stuart Chase.
Chase explained the Make-A-Wish foundation has chapters in 50 countries that work together to grant wishes around the globe.
“When kids make wishes, basically whatever the home chapter is put the feelers out there and figure out where they can grant this wish,” he said. “If a kid like Jakob comes along in New York and says, ‘I wish to go catch salmon on the Pacific Coast,’ that’s when his home chapter of Make-A-Wish starts their wheels turning.”
When the BC and Yukon chapter received the call from their New York colleagues, they reached out to Ucluelet, in part, because Ucluelet was hugely successful in making 13-year-old Denmark native Sebastian Lavendt Make-A-Wish dream to catch a wild pacific salmon come true in August.
Chase said he was delighted to watch Ucluelet accomplish its second strong performance.
“We managed to reach out, once again, to the good folks in Ucluelet and, once again, they knocked it out of the park,” he said.
“Ucluelet is developing a strong reputation for us and, if you guys continue to knock it out of the park, we’re going to keep recommending you. That’s for sure.”
Jakob’s father Gregory Brower expressed huge gratitude for the experience the community offered.
He said the family’s accommodation, provided by Ridge Vacation Property Rentals, was “gorgeous” and the family enjoyed waking up to the ocean view each morning.
“Jakob walked into the house greeted by a wonderful welcome sign and so many of his favourite goodies as well as gift certificates to use in town. He was incredibly touched,” Gregory said.
Before setting out on his fish wish, Jakob went wildlife watching with Jamie’s Whaling Station and was delighted to see black bears flipping over rocks onshore in search of crabs and oysters.
“He saw many bald eagles, sea lions, seals and so many other birds and wildlife,” Gregory said. “In fact, during the week he also saw many deer, river otters, and an amazing array of birds.”
The family also went whale watching with the Jamie’s team and spotted two humpback whales.
“It was another great day on the water seeing so much wildlife,” Gregory said.
When it came time to fulfill his dream, Jakob was teamed up with Captain Brock Johansen of Ucluelet Charters.
“Fishing started out slow but Brock kept Jakob out on the water well past the original six hours and Jakob was able to land his desired salmon and so many other fish,” Gregory said. “It was truly a great day for Jakob. His wish of catching a salmon in British Columbia came true…He proudly brought home his salmon, which I had professionally packed for the trip home.”
Chase said it is vital to have welcoming communities like Ucluelet on the line when wishes like Jakob’s are cast.
“We want so much for those kids to have a life-changing experience; something that’s going to provide them hope, strength and joy to be able to push them through treatment, or whatever they’ve got left to fight this life-threatening condition. For a small community like Ucluelet to be able to rally around that idea and do it for us is just incredible,” he said.
“We just love knowing that we have injected some serious joy into a little life that’s going through a really hard time. It is so gratifying to us and it’s not a feeling that we get when we don’t have communities to back us up on helping grant these wishes.”