Brave Smiles

A farmer and a dealership help make a little boy’s big dream come true.

By Glenn Davison

Marcus and his buddy, Glenn

Editor’s note: FarmLife recently received this touching story from a caring reader, Glenn Davison. It’s a story that exemplifies what makes the agriculture community so special.

For more than 30 years, I have dealt exclusively with McKeown Motors in Springbrook, ON, for all my Massey Ferguson equipment needs. I consider the owners, Bill and Grace McKeown, to be good friends. They have always gone out of their way to be sure I received the best service. I recently needed their help to make a dream come true. They didn’t let me down.

It started three years ago, prior to when my wife Cheryl passed away from pancreatic cancer. When she went for treatments at Kingston General Hospital (KGH), we had to go through the paediatric cancer unit to get to the area for adults. It broke our hearts to see the young children suffering, crying and clinging to their parents. She said that if we had enough money, she would like each child receiving cancer treatments to get a cuddly plush animal. This July 6th was the fourth time I’ve been to KGH to deliver “cuddlies” for the children in the cancer ward.

Last year, the head nurse told me there were 30 children, so I bought 30 cuddlies and anonymously delivered them to the ward. One little guy, Marcus Hacault, then four years old with stage four cancer, chose his favourite character, Clifford, the Big Red Dog. It brought him such comfort, and he wanted to write to the person who sent it.

The hospital forwarded the note to me, and I wrote back through the hospital. Addresses and emails were then exchanged. Since then, Marcus and I have become friends for life, brought together by tragedy.

When Marcus was in Toronto for treatments, he and his mom passed some of the time by keeping in touch with me by email. Marcus would ask about my farm near Flinton, Ontario, specifically the cows and calves I raise, how many there are (typically 25) and what games they liked to play. He then decided to name the six heifers and six steers, and every time a new calf arrives, I let him know what we have and names arrive.

Marcus has wanted to come to the farm to see the cows and calves, as well as ride in my new tractor, an MF4708. He hasn’t been able to make the trip, but when my new tractor arrived at McKeown Motor Sales last week, a plan formed and I spoke to Bill McKeown about it. Without any hesitation, he generously agreed to ship the new tractor on a trailer to Marcus’ home in Kingston. When Bill Cooke, an equipment salesman, heard about the plan, he volunteered to do the driving.

What a day it was. The sun was shining and some very excited children awaited our arrival. Marcus and all his siblings got a ride in the tractor and ate homemade peanut butter cookies on the lawn. Before we left, Bill Cooke presented Marcus with a child-sized replica pedal tractor. When we pulled out, he was still riding it around and around in the driveway. Marcus says he shares his tractor with his sisters, and the boy next door comes over for a ride periodically.

The Hacault family lives outside of Toronto. That distance creates some hardships, in part because they don’t have family nearby, so they felt it was pretty special that complete strangers were the ones who reached out to them in their time of pain. The day we took the tractor over was exactly one year from Marcus’ initial diagnosis.

Marcus’ dream came true because of the goodness of a few people. I don’t think anything could make your heart feel fuller than seeing the smile on a little guy’s face who has bravely battled so much. The McKeown “family” and I share the belief in paying it forward and finding ways to make a difference in people’s lives. This event for Marcus is just following through on beliefs, following our hearts and making a little boy’s dream come true.