Not every teenager is handed keys to a new recreational vehicle on their 18th birthday.
But that's exactly what happened at Islander RV on the outskirts of St. John's Tuesday morning as Joey Predham received his wish from the Children's Wish Foundation.
Sitting on a sofa in the showcase room near his parents Doris and Terry Predham, the Mount Pearl teenager appeared overwhelmed with all the attention.
"I just can't believe this is finally happening," he repeated several times, covering his face with his hands.
Joey said the first thing he's going to do when he gets his trailer home is take a nap in his big bed.
"I'm going to go out there and get away from my brothers (aged 19 and 21). And Nan can come out, too, but I'm making her sleep on the floor," Joey laughed glancing at his grandmother Madonna Predham.
Joey has had months to think about what he'll take with him when he camps out in his backyard this summer.
There'll be a place for his special comic books, sticker books and some of his favourite movies and CDs.
"I can't believe this," Joey repeated looking towards two Janeway staff members who turned out for the special event.
Sick since he was a baby
Terry said his son has been sick since birth. He has a severe seizure disorder and some permanent paralysis from surgeries he's undergone to help control his seizures.
Dr. David Buckley, a pediatric neurologist at the Janeway Children's Hospital has been caring for Joey since he was 10 months old, Doris said.
"He's 18, but of course he's not 18 mentally," she said.
"I had a seizure last night didn't I, Mom?" Joey asked.
"Yes, Joey you did. You were all excited about your birthday and getting your trailer," his mother said.
The CWF grants wishes to children age three to 17 with life-threatening illnesses. Joey was 17 when the referral was made, making him eligible for his wish, said wish co-ordinator Valerie Geary.
"Joey told me from the beginning, 'I always wished for a trailer for my birthday and Mom says maybe some time, but not this year. But I got it now,'" Geary said.
Since 1984 the CWF of Canada has granted wishes to more than 16,000 children and their families.
Making wishes come true
Since 1986 the foundation's Newfoundland and Labrador chapter has granted almost 600 wishes to eligible children.
In 2010, 33 children in this province were granted wishes.
More than 40 wishes have already been granted so far this year and new referrals are coming in every day said CWF N.L. chapter director Edie Newton.
"(These wishes) are about precious weeks spent planning and special moments spent enjoying the magic of a wish fulfilled," Newton said.
It's thanks to the foundation's staff, volunteers and donors from throughout the province that wishes like Joey's are made possible, Newton said.
Doris said Islander RV salesman Paul Mercer worked closely with the family.
"Paul was fantastic. We've been in to see him many times and he's always been there for us and for Joey," she said.
After some birthday hugs and well wishes, Joey headed out to his new RV with his parents, grandmother and others who gathered to help him celebrate his wish.
Once seated on the sofa in front of his large bed, he joked again with his grandmother telling her she'll be sleeping on the floor.
After more lighthearted remarks, everyone laughed when he gave in and said she can sleep in one of the two bunks at the far end of the RV.
Madonna said she is delighted to see her grandson's fondest dream come true.
"Terry and Doris always told me how much Joey wanted a trailer. And I'm just so glad he got it. They're doing a wonderful thing here today, but I don't think anyone realizes just how much Joey wanted this," she said.
- Article and photo reprinted with permission from Danette Dooley.