After an intensive round of chemotherapy, seven-year-old Karmyn usually doesn’t have much of an appetite.
In August 2018, Karmyn was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), and two weeks after that, her cancer was determined to be ‘Philadelphia-positive,’ a much more rare and aggressive form of leukemia.
“It’s definitely been intense,” says Karmyn’s mother Kimberly, before having to take a moment to compose herself. “Physically, on her, and as well as emotionally and mentally on her and the family. She’s gone through six cycles of chemo, and that’s just in the last seven months. It’s been hard seeing a very healthy girl who loves to smile, and overnight that kind of went away.”
One thing that still makes Karmyn smile is her favourite food; sushi. Particularly salmon sashimi.
Because her chemotherapy treatments will often leave her without any appetite at all, sometimes for days, Karmyn has fallen in love with watching food-focused travel shows on Netflix and YouTube, and now dreams of being able to travel to Tokyo, Japan one day to eat all the fresh, local sushi she can get her hands on.
Fortunately for her, The Dream Factory exists to make dreams just like that come true.
In December 2018, Andrew Kussy, The Dream Factory’s development manager, was attending The Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business Forum at The Royal Canadian Mint. It was there that he first met Shaun Jeffrey, the executive director of the Manitoba Restaurant & Foodservices Association (MRFA), and the two got to talking.
“He was interested in learning a little bit more about potentially joining up with The Dream Factory for a golf tournament that they host,” Kussy explains. “And once we got to chatting it just kind of snowballed into this much bigger thing. They got really invested in the idea that they could help make a very specific dream come true for a child. And it did feel kind of serendipitous, given the work that Shaun and his team do at the MRFA.
“When I went to our dream coordinator and said, ‘Hey, do we have any dreams that might be a good fit for a bunch of restauranteurs,’ I couldn’t believe it when she said we actually just met with a family who has a daughter that wants to go to Japan to eat all the sushi she can.”
The MRFA is now officially sponsoring Karmyn’s dream, and has invited Karmyn and her family to attend the Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ Hospitality Night on June 27, with $5 from every ticket purchased going directly to The Dream Factory to help make more dreams come true for children battling life-threatening illnesses in Winnipeg.
Word spread quickly, and soon members of the MRFA were calling to ask how they could get involved.
“Expect some cool and creative engagements with some of the member restaurants of the MRFA over the next couple of months, because it sounds like they really want to get involved, they really want to help, and it feels like community coming together to make this dream come true,” Kussy says. “It’s been pretty special to see.
“We appreciate the fact that we were able to connect with them at a Winnipeg Chamber event. I think that’s the value of The Chamber, they do such a great job of creating events where it’s comfortable and accessible for a non-profit organization to meet someone looking to make a difference, and then the rest just comes together. None of this would have happened if we hadn’t been connected through that event.”
The Dream Factory has made more than 700 dreams come true for children in Winnipeg since it was founded in 1983, and while Karmyn’s dream is to get her fill of sushi in Japan, they’ve already made one dream come true for her mother.
“It’s definitely given us something to look forward to,” Kimberly says. “Before we found out about being able to have a wish granted, all we thought about was hospital visits, clinic visits, chemo. It’s given her a little bit of hope for the future.
“I just want to make sure that everybody knows how thankful we are for their support. The outpouring from everyone in the community has been so amazing.”
To learn more about Karmyn and how you can help make her dream come true, visit https://www.thedreamfactory.ca/blog/meet-karmyn