|Richard Harrold, along with his parents Mark and Lori and sister Katelyn, will be heading to London for Christmas where theyÕll take in a Premier League soccer game featuring Arsenal Football Club through the ChildrenÕs Wish Foundation. Herald photo by Ian Martens|
It's bound to be a memorable Christmas for one Lethbridge-area family.
High school student Richard Harrold and his family are flying to Britain, to take in a Premier League soccer game.
Not just any game, however, but one featuring the Arsenal Football Club.
"That's my team," explains Harrold, a soccer player himself. He also plays hockey, despite the challenges of living with Crohn's disease for most of his life.
His dad, Mark, knows both games as well, and he's volunteered as a coach for many years. Lori, Richard's mother, admits she knows less about the strategies of either game - she just attends her son's games and cheers for his team.
But the Arsenal match - in the 60,361-seat Emirates Stadium on London's north side - is likely to be a little more exciting than games near their family home in Coalhurst.
"And they're putting us in a VIP box with a buffet," she adds.
Arsenal, the first team from southern England to join the national league, has remained in the league's top division longer than any other. Its cross-town rival, Tottenham Hotspur, is equally famous.
Lori Harrold says the Children's Wish Foundation planner has also lined up visitor passes to many of London's most historic attractions. They're all covered, along with the airfare and accommodation.
"Wonderful things do happen," she says.
While her son doesn't want everyone to know details of his battle, she says it's important to tell everyone about the Children's Wish Foundation and all it does to lift the spirits of Canadian children and teens who face debilitating or potentially life-threatening diseases.
"It's a story that should be shared."
Crohn's disease, she points out, is an auto-immune disorder affecting part or almost all of a person's gastrointestinal tract. Costly treatments are needed to keep it under control.
While 17-year-old Richard is older than some of the other Alberta youngsters who've been nominated and then granted a wish, she explains the non-profit organization's offer has been on the table awhile. But other family members or relatives have had health issues of their own.
"This has come at just the right time," she says. "We're getting a little excited."
The family, including 15-year-old daughter Katelyn, will be crossing the Atlantic this evening. Lori says they're scheduled to return Dec. 31.
Further information on the foundation - including how to support its year-round "wish" program - is available online at www.childrenswish.ca
Members of the public may also go online to nominate a young person they believe would qualify to benefit.