Saige's family camper dream comes true
Her sweet spirit shines through every challenge she faces. Dad even calls Saige Werkman the happiest child he has ever seen.
In her four years, Saige has endured far more than most of us will in our lives. At six months she underwent a heart transplant.
Several major surgeries followed and then there were those agonizing 30 minutes when her life hung in the balance as hospital staff performed CPR.
Saige now has a weakened immune system, yet hers is not a tale of misery. It is one of joy – the joy she has brought to those whose lives she has touched, particularly parents Wes and Gloria and older sisters Hailey and Sierra, and the joy within herself.
Now Saige has another reason to smile: she has been granted the wish of a camper to spend summers with her family. It means she can enjoy the great outdoors, probably the favourite playground of any child, without travelling too far from Stollery Children’s Hospital where she goes for check-ups.
Saige’s “fairy godmother” was the Children’s Wish Foundation, which worked with Grove RV to supply the camper.
“I can’t say enough about them,” said Wes, who works for Barrhead’s Sutton Realty. “They went far over and above.”
Wes said Saige was “pretty excited” by the camper, but at four it is hard to take everything in and realize the full significance of the gleaming addition to the family acreage in Neerlandia.
Eight-year-old Hailey and Sierra (six), so supportive and protective of their fun-loving little sister, are old enough to understand how life has suddenly got a little easier.
“They get it,” said Wes. “They know it is a gift for the family. We now call it ‘Saige’s wish trailer.’”
Saige’s first camping trip with her family is planned for July.
The story of Saige and her wish was featured on Global Edmonton last week. Most children her age dream of trips to Disneyland, of seeing Mickey Mouse or a favourite pop star.
Anna Carr, associate director of Children’s Wish Foundation, said Saige’s choice spoke to the importance of family.
“Sometimes we take that for granted,” she said, adding the look on Saige’s face at seeing the camper was the reason the foundation existed.
Being in the spotlight didn’t bother Saige.
In fact, she seemed a natural before the cameras, more so than many adults unused to public attention.
“She was pretty pumped up,” said Wes.
Viewers saw Saige’s face illuminated as she explored the inside of the trailer and played with her sisters.
They saw why she captivated hospital staff and won a special award last fall: the kid with the biggest smile. Saige, who attends an early intervention program in Barrhead, suffers from heterotaxy syndrome, a disorder in which certain organs form in abnormal parts of the body.
Words cannot begin to describe what she has been through. They also cannot do justice to her resilience and courage. Nor can they describe adequately the joy on a child’s face when a dream comes true.
From where does such joy spring? Perhaps it is the indomitable spirit of youth. Perhaps it points to something unique in Saige. Perhaps it points to something deeper within us all.
Gloria said 2012 had been a good year so far for Saige. After last week’s excitement, the year got even better.
“She is doing really well today,” Gloria said last Thursday.
“Saige is a very active and exuberant child,” added Wes. “I would say she is the happiest kid I have ever met. She is a delight and blessing to our lives.”
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