In 2006 Scarborough resident Taryn Welch-Joslyn caught the attention of her friends and family. At just 13 years of age, she was diagnosed with an eating disorder-anorexia nervosa. During her recovery period, she never would have imagined that two years later, one of her greatest wishes would come true.
“I am really excited,” she said the day before she left for her trip to New York. “It is only a day away!”
On Oct. 24, Make-A-Wish Canada helped Taryn, now 15, get her wish. This year, the organization is celebrating 25 years of wish granting to children with life-threatening illnesses. Normally, they only grant one wish per day, but in honour of the anniversary, from Oct. 20-26 they chose to grant 25 wishes across Canada.
Taryn’s wish was to go to New York City to watch a Broadway show and to go shopping. Her best friend and her mother Susan Welch-Joslyn accompanied her on the trip.
At five foot four, Taryn weighed just 90 pounds when she was diagnosed with the illness. A normal weight for her age and height would have been 120 pounds.
Susan had heard about Make-A-Wish Canada through one of the special-needs families she worked with and decided to refer her daughter.
“I thought she had worked so hard and struggled through so much that it would be nice if we were able to do something for her,” she said.
When Taryn found out that her wish was going to come true she was ecstatic and surprised.
“My mom didn’t tell me she had applied for me because she wasn’t sure anything would come of it,” Taryn said. “So I found out when they called my mom to tell her that I was getting my wish.”
According to Judi Farrell, executive director of the Toronto chapter of Make-A-Wish Canada, only the child’s family, friend or doctor can refer a child for a wish. The child must be able to express their wish and must be between three and 17 years of age.
“A lot of people think that if you get your wish, that your condition is terminal,” Farrell said. “But that is not always the case. A lot of them are life threatening, but the child will grow up and lead a long, happy life.”
Fortunately, Taryn received the help she needed and has been healthy and free from doctor visits since April 2008.
On the phone from New York, Taryn was still reeling from the experience.
“It was really awesome,” she exclaimed. “The most memorable moment was watching The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway and seeing Times Square for the first time.”
Susan was just happy to have shared the experience with her daughter.
“I can’t say enough good things about Make-A-Wish,” she said. “It really has been very special. They have just exceeded any expectations.”
But for Taryn words are not enough to express her gratitude.
“Thank-you doesn’t even cover it because they (Make-A-Wish) have done so much,” she said. “Thank-you, a billion times, thank-you.”